The Clean Water Crisis in America


Source: Twitter, Flint Water Crisis @helpflint

Ava Peterson, Staff Writer

You may not think there would be a problem with access to clean water in America, but a number of communities are dealing with this issue. Although the crisis here is not as bad as in other countries, it is still a danger to some U.S. citizens.

Since 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan has had unsafe drinking water due to lead pipes. Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems, affecting the heart, kidneys, fertility, and children’s brain function. In Flint, the water problem has been associated with twelve deaths from Legionnaires’ disease, a severe form of pneumonia. This disease also affected ninety other people. Although this crisis is slowly being resolved, some residents are very skeptical of the drinking water due to the way the local government handled the problem from the start. 

If you go just about twenty miles from Tenafly, there is a clean water crisis in Newark. Marc Edwards, a professor of civil engineering at Virginia Tech, says that the lead levels in Newark are slightly worse than those in Flint, Michigan. There have not been any deaths, but the risk for disease increases every day. Newark wants to solve this problem as soon as possible. 

Kareem Adeem, Assistant Director of Newark’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities, said in an interview, “It’s a national problem…remove all the lead pipes everywhere. Upgrade the water and sewer infrastructure. This is the United States of America. The richest country in the world. We can do it. We’re doing it right now in Newark. We’re replacing lead service pipes. So if Newark can do it, the country can do it.”

Other cities in the United States are struggling with this same issue. They include Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. These communities have lead seeping into their water supply, and many people have been negatively affected. 

Lead is not the only problem with our drinking water. In other towns, there are chemicals such as radium and arsenic in the water supply. Arsenic and radium can cause many medical issues, such as cancer. 

Not all Americans are not getting the clean water they need. Communities like Flint and Newark show us that exposure to chemicals in water is a problem within our borders.