Toxic Water: Flint’s Crisis Could be South Georgia’s if we are Not Careful

When you think of toxic water, what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you’re like most Americans, the first thing that you will think of is the city of Flint, Michigan. The city is in a water crisis due to poor decisions made by city and state management.

What’s in the Water?

THM: A chlorine byproduct that is used to decontaminate toxic water.

Lead: The acceptable amount of lead in a water is 15 ppb. In Flint’s 423 sentinel sites, 37 of them tested above the limit with 8 of the sites reporting over 100ppb.

Health Effects

Exposure to THMs come with numerous health risks. Those risks include burning, itching and redness of the skin, destruction of the central nervous system, respiratory disease, heart disease, possible liver and kidney failure, and deterioration of reproductive organs.

Lead exposure could have the following health risks: Anemia, stunted growth, hearing impairment, development of learning disabilities, premature birth, increased blood pressure, kidney failure and reproductive issues.

What Does Flint Go from Here?

Since the original 2014 report found that the Flint water supply was contaminated, the city of Flint and the state of Michigan have come under tremendous scrutiny. In March of 2015 the Flint City Council voted to return to the original source of water in Lake Huron. That vote was blocked by the state of Michigan. In October of 2015 the water was finally switched back to Lake Huron but the damage to the pipes had already been done. Governor Snyder has declared Flint in a state of emergency and President Barack Obama has declared a federal state of emergency as well.

On June 8th, 2016 the Michigan Legislature agreed to a budget of $165 million to replace the lead based pipelines. Flint citizens will also get a 65% credit on their water bills as well as a 20% credit for businesses.

Several officials from the state and the EPA have resigned over this matter but there is a few more heads that will have to roll before this is all over, most notably Governor Snyder, who failed to act when presented with the information of the contaminated Flint water. Federal investigations have revealed a breakdown in communication and lack of urgency at all levels. Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have both expressed that Governor Snyder should resign and Republican nominee Donald Trump said “It’s a shame what’s happening in Flint, Michigan. A thing like that shouldn’t happen” but Trump denied to comment on Governor Snyder’s role.

What about South Georgia?

How do we as South Georgians protect ourselves and our neighbors from a water crisis such as the one happening in Flint? First we need to understand that our water comes from an underground aquifer which is not subject to becoming as polluted as an above ground source like the Flint River. Secondly the surest way to purify your water is to boil it anywhere from 3-12 minutes. If you wish to filter the water out of the tap the reverse osmosis filters are considered the best but can be a bit pricy. For a more economical approach you can try the Brita Advanced Faucet Filtration System, it costs $29.99 and can be picked up at your local hardware store. Finally we need to make sure that we elect leaders who are concerned with the well-being of the people rather than those who value money more than the safety of the constituents they serve.

The next time that you go home and turn your sink on, take a moment to appreciate the fact that you have clean water to use. Let’s make sure we appreciate what we have and continually strive to preserve and protect it rather than risk it for money.

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