Tag Archives: Flint

A Precious Resource – Think Twice About Wasting Water

fountain-352251_640So many of us may have become complacent about the water that has seemingly so easily flowed through our faucets and garden hoses. In the United States, drought and aging infrastructure served as not so gentle reminders that clean, safe water does not flow freely if we don’t take steps to preserve this precious resource. Flint, MI has poisoned its citizens with lead, which has lead to increased testing – and lead and other toxins are being found in public systems countrywide. In other parts of the world, clean, safe, flowing water is a luxury, which many do not have.

We commemorated World Water Day this week. Life cannot be sustained without water; as such, we believe it is a basic human right. According to UNWater.org, ‘World Water Day is an international observance and an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference.”

The theme for this years’ World Water Day was water and jobs, and putting a spotlight on how quality and quantity of water can change lives and livelihoods – and even transform societies and economies.

Think about it –installing a small rainwater system for a home or business can vastly improve the lives of residents, employees, families – but also the overall public by reducing loads on public systems. Private systems can still be connected to city or well water, which would be used as backup to rainwater systems, if and when necessary.

But enough about us, we really wanted to share some amazing photos, that will make you think twice about wasting water. The extraordinary shots document how folks around the world access water. We encourage you to take a look, and then think about how we may be heading in this direction if we don’t start thinking about how we can better manage our access to safe and clean water – and the hazards that threaten our aging public systems.

Flint Opens Floodgates for Testing Water Quality

Exemplary pictures looking into Flint drinking water pipes, showing different kinds of iron corrosion and rust (Photo: Min Tang and Kelsey Pieper) http://flintwaterstudy.org/tag/drinking-water/
Exemplary pictures looking into Flint drinking water pipes, showing different kinds of iron corrosion and rust (Photo: Min Tang and Kelsey Pieper) http://flintwaterstudy.org/tag/drinking-water/

We at RainBank have been writing about declining water quality in public systems in the United States since we started sharing information in 2014. Aging infrastructure is an issue that has been known for quite a long time, but only recently has been brought to greater awareness because of the Flint lead poisoning crisis. Older public water systems are typically comprised of galvanized pipe and can be 70 or more years old. This issue of contaminated water is not new, but has been building over many years and is becoming more widely known because more testing is being performed.

A recent article in USA Today, Beyond Flint: Excessive lead levels found in almost 2,000 water systems across all 50 states, the jarring results of an independent study found that of water systems tested, lead levels beyond EPA standards were found. Overall, these systems provide water to 6 million people, a percentage of which supply drinking water to facilities where children gather or reside – and where some of the highest levels were found. Additionally, some didn’t even notify the public.

Coast to coast, water quality awareness is being raised and tests are being performed. At NJ.com, it was reported that a hospital in Morristown, NJ recently learned of rising lead levels in its water supply, reporting, Twenty-eight out of 39 samples tested by the hospital on Feb. 22 were above the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s action limit of 15 parts per billion…” Also in Newark, NJ, the largest city in the state, the school system is testing students for lead because, not only was it discovered the levels were high, but it has been known for years – and not reported. (Read more from The NY Times Newark Schools to Test Pupils for Lead as Officials Cite Longstanding Problem)

The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) agree that there is no known safe level of lead in a child’s blood. Lead is harmful to health, especially for children.

And it’s not just lead. In the Puget Sound, drugs were found in salmon from fouled wastewater. “Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, even cocaine. Those drugs and dozens of others are showing up in the tissues of juvenile chinook, researchers have found, thanks to tainted wastewater discharge.” Additionally, common over the counter pharmaceuticals like Flonase, Aleve and Tylenol were present, along with Paxil, Valium and Zoloft, Tagamet, OxyContin and Darvon. Nicotine and caffeine, fungicides, antiseptics and anticoagulants and Cipro and other antibiotics – were also included in this toxic mix. According to the Seattle Times, “the findings are of concern because most of the chemicals detected are not monitored or regulated in wastewater, and there is little or no established science on the environmental toxicity for the vast majority of the compounds detected.”

Of course, we believe the best solution is rainwater collection. Water harvested from roof runoff is relatively clean and can be used to bypass or supplement city or well water. It has commercial and residential applications that run from drinking to irrigation, toilet flushing, vehicle wash down  and more. Contact us for more information.

Will Decentralized Water Systems Flow in the Wake of Flint Crisis?

Matt Grocoffwater-464953_640, a writer, speaker and recognized leader in net zero energy and living buildings asks: “What if there is a better way for Flint and other cities to harvest and deliver life-enhancing water?

We’ve talked about why decentralized water systems are important to our public safety and why rainwater collection is a simple source for decentralized water, and how it can be the answer to our aging, centralized water systems. With expected increased demand from high density development and the high cost of upgrading infrastructure to meet those demands, water is becoming a commodity.

In his February 15th post for Michigan Radio, Can Flint crisis inspire better water systems for all of us?, Grocoff goes on to say, “There is no doubt that Flint’s water crisis is an unqualified failure of democracy, but it is also a century-old failure of design and systems thinking.”

With a progressive train of thought, he asks, instead of replacing all of the pipes, how about building a better system? This practical approach has some of us scratching our heads because it makes perfect sense.

As science and technology evolve, we should adapt new practices for designing and building public water systems – for the sake of our health, longevity, sustainability and affordability.