As we celebrate World Water Day, we’re taking a look at the 5 top water stories that have broken in the past year. While World Water Day is meant to highlight the fact that many of the world’s people don’t have clean, fresh drinking water, these stories also remind us that we can’t take our water resources for granted.
Lead in the water
It’s hard to believe that in 2016, a major American city is dealing with lead, copper and iron contamination in the water supply, but that’s just what’s happening in Flint, MI. Flint failed to add anti-corrosion measures to its water when it switched water sources in 2013, and destroyed the city’s fresh water infrastructure in the process. Cities around the nation are watching Flint and Michigan to see how they’ll deal with the looming self-inflicted public health crisis.
While we remain relatively wet in the Northeast, much of the country is suffering from drought conditions. California is entering its second year of restricted water use as nearly 100% of the state copes with severe drought. Some experts predict that the drought pattern will last as many as 25 years, and Western states are scrambling to enact water conservation measures.
One of President Obama’s last acts of 2015 was to ban microbeads in consumer products. A microbead is any solid plastic particle that is less than 5 millimeters, and you can find them in cleansers, toothpaste, shampoos and soaps. They’re meant to scrub, clean and exfoliate, but they’re accumulating in alarming numbers in the nation’s lakes and rivers. They’re also accumulating in fish and other marine life. As it turns out, we’re not really sure what their cumulative effect is on the ecosystem. Companies have until July 1, 2017 to get the beads out of their products.
Flint’s misfortune has caused cities around the country, including Boston, to redouble their efforts to test water quality in the homes still served by lead water lines and ultimately replace those pipes. The MWRA has established a $100M fund to help homeowners in their service area replace their lead water lines via zero-interest loans.
In 2014, Toledo and surrounding communities famously dealt with a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie that shut down the city’s municipal water supply for several days. Agricultural runoff was targeted as the cause of the algae bloom, but Toledo isn’t the only city doing battle with algae. The EPA has indicated that it will order communities along the Charles River to adopt sweeping changes designed to inhibit the toxic algae blooms that have affected the area annually for the past decade. The measures are expected to boost some local water bills by as much as $25 per month and require communities to treat more water to make sure enough is available to meet demand. The new regulations will require communities to remove at least 54% of all phosphorus that currently enters the Charles River. The major sources of phosphorus are agricultural and include animal waste and fertilizers. Auto exhaust is also a major contributor to phosphorus contamination.
At Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, we strive to provide clean safe water to homes and businesses in the Boston area. While we don’t treat the water, we can make sure that your home’s water infrastructure is in excellent condition! Give us a call at (617) 288-2911 any time of the day or night and let us take care of your plumbing, heating and cooling needs!
Photo Credit: Johanna Ljungblom, via FreeImages.com