Water shortages and contaminants across the globe and right next door-
In India, approximately 200,000 people die per year due to unsafe drinking water with over 700 million people struggling with water shortages across the nation.
As more than 20 heavily populated cities face groundwater supplies that are rapidly dwindling if not fully depleted.
In the water barren countries of Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, drought and substandard water systems leave millions without access to safe drinking water. Additionally, over 2,000,000 are facing starvation in the region due to drought.
However, the fight for access to safe contaminant free water is not limited to destitute cities on distant shores. The United States shows how even nations of great wealth leave its people without clean drinking water.
In 2011, the state of Michigan acquired control over Flint’s finances during a shortfall and announced that a new pipeline would be constructed piping water from Lake Huron. While the pipeline was under construction, the city relied on the Flint River as a primary water source, and that’s when residents began to notice disturbing changes to their water.
The Environmental Protection Agency tested the water supply and found indications of dangerously high levels of lead in the water. The consumption of Lead affects the kidneys, heart, and central nervous system, and in children, it can additionally cause behavioral issues and even delay puberty.
“It’s a community that’s still dealing with the trauma and the aftermath of having been poisoned at the hands of the government,” stated Karen Weaver, the city’s new mayor.
Much like Michigan, Chicago has a lot of old lead pipes that were installed being outlawed in the mid-1980s. So many in fact that Illinois accounts for 1/8th of the lead service pipes in the United States.
Meanwhile, lead levels in New Jersey’s drinking water are among the highest recorded in the United States due to lead flaking off old pipes and into the drinking water.
Following a recent warning from the EPA, residents in approximately 15,000 homes in Newark were told to avoid their tap water and to drink only bottled water. This after Newark city began handing out water filters to approximately 40,000 of its residents. And while affected residents stated that they are unclear on how to install them properly, the Environmental Protection Agency isn’t so sure that proper installation of the city provided water filters will make a difference.
Recently, they sent a letter to city officials showing that after their testing of the contaminated water after being filtered by the city’s provided water filters, lead levels still exceeded federal limits and was unsafe.
In 1991, regulations required that all water systems monitor their supply for lead in their drinking water and set a limit of 15 parts per billion. However, testing performed in 2017 found that 1 out of 10 households had nearly twice the lead in their water as what is permissible by the federal government.
Looking to get things back on track, Newark expanded their program to deliver bottled water free of charge to their residents who are pregnant or that have young children, however this program too has faced a major setback when city officials realized the bottled water was in fact expired.