As the illogically-elected US President battles the EPA and other environmental agencies charged with keeping drinking water safe, the details of a deadly, environmental tap water tragedy unfold in Flint, Michigan where 12 people died and at least 90 were physically impacted by Legionnaires’ Disease, a type of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria.
Many recall the revelation that lead was discovered in Flint’s drinking water – it became national news early in 2016. Residents in Flint began complaining about the water’s bad taste and smell around the middle of 2014, weeks after the state stopped giving Flint residents water from Lake Huron, Michigan, and switched the Flint water supply to the Flint River.
Why? Always the same answer: To save money.
How does a government save money in this way? Well, when you use a questionable water supply like the Flint River, precise levels of chlorine have to be maintained to avoid problems associated with Legionella bacteria. This is a costly and absolutely necessary process. Michigan state officials didn’t ensure that the proper levels and balances remained. Later, when officials were called out, they held their hands up and claimed that it wasn’t possible to determine exactly what caused the bacterial outbreak. A team of researchers now points to data indicating that 80 percent of the Legionnaires’ cases in 2014 and 2015 did, in fact, stem directly from Flint River water.
The study has prompted a series of complaints from Michigan Department of Health and Human Services officials, who believe the study is highly flawed.
What isn’t debatable, is that water is the most important thing on earth. This is the message that emanates from places like Standing Rock, North Dakota. When we lose control over water quality, everyone is impacted, and it is a silent killer. Agencies charged with water quality need adequate funding and oversight.