Drinking Water Contamination Goes Far Beyond Flint
WASHINGTON (April 13, 2016) – The lead contamination of Flint, Michigan’s drinking water is not an isolated incident, and lead is just one of many poisons that taint tap water all over the United States, according to Mae Wu, senior attorney with the Health Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Wu testified today at a joint hearing convened by two panels of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to assess the public health, environmental and economic impacts of the Flint disaster.
With about 6 to 10 million service lines made of lead, Wu said, EPA must immediately strengthen the Lead and Copper Rule, which the agency established in 1991 to better control lead levels in tap water.
“At a minimum, the rule should be fixed to require all lead service lines to be fully replaced and to more fully and fairly monitor problems,” she said.
“It’s not just about lead. And Flint is not an anomaly,” Wu said. “Drinking water contamination incidents are all too common.” Every day, millions of Americans are exposed to both regulated and unregulated contaminants, Wu explained, such as arsenic, a rocket fuel component called perchlorate, bacteria and other pathogens, and cancer-causing disinfection byproducts.
There were 16,802 “significant violations” of federal drinking water standards in 2013, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent data.
Wu was the second NRDC expert to testify about Flint and the safety of America’s drinking water supplies. Last week, Erik Olson, director of NRDC’s Health program, appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
In January, NRDC, the ACLU of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, and Flint resident Melissa Mays filed suit under the Safe Drinking Water Act seeking federal court intervention to secure access to safe drinking water for the people of Flint, Michigan.