The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has focused citizen attention on just how quickly water shortages can develop around the country. A subsequent crisis is also reported in Newark, New Jersey. There, at least 30 public schools report lead contamination in water supplies. The Newark Teachers Union president described the situation as a “mini-Flint.”
Evidence of lead contamination in water supplies is mounting across the country. Journalists involved in putting together a 2016 article on lead in the nation’s water supplies gathered information from the Environmental Protection Agency revealing that only nine states report safe levels of lead in their water supplies: Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada and Hawaii. The other 41 states reported excessive levels of lead in drinking water at some point during the last three fiscal years.
Lead and Copper Rule Violated
In 1991, the federal government established the Lead and Copper Rule to control copper and lead levels in drinking water. When so-called “action levels” are exceeded there are requirements to inform the public about the steps required to protect their health. That is, over the past three years 41 of the 50 states have reported Action Level Exceedance (ALE) events.
As Casey Dingess, the senior managing director of the American Society of Civil Engineers put it, the nation’s water delivery infrastructure is in “serious need of investment.” He states that, without adequate investment, over $400 billion in U.S. GDP is at risk by the year 2020. A failure to invest in infrastructure could cost the country an estimated 700,000 jobs as well.
Erik Olson, the Natural Resources Defense Council senior strategic director, says that substandard data reporting, inadequate state oversight and lack of accountability contribute to the concealment of just how widespread the problem of lead contamination is.
Threat of Intentional Acts
Lead is not the only threat to the nation’s water supplies. Many are concerned about the possibility of deliberate acts of sabotage that could compromise or even poison water supplies. In 2002, the FBI arrested two individuals who possessed documents containing information about how to poison water supplies. In one instance, a 36-year-old man surrendered to the FBI in Denver, Colorado. This led the FBI to another man suspected of plotting terrorist attacks against U.S. water supplies.
In February 2003, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before a Senate select committee about terrorist threats against the nation’s water supplies. During his testimony, he spoke of how such an attack could quickly undermine public confidence in both food and water supplies.
In 2001, a hoax letter was faxed regarding a threat to contaminate water supplies in 28 American cities. Although the threat was a hoax, it generated significant fear at the time. An official with the Indianapolis Water Company said that there would be a domino effect if the public suddenly lost confidence in water supplies. He spoke of the potential for a panic run on bottled water and other water supply alternatives.
In October 2013, Reuters reported that the FBI was looking into a possible threat to the Wichita, Kansas, water supply system. Although this threat did not come to pass, it once again raised the specter of how quickly an attack, or even a perceived attack, on an American water supply could induce panic.
In this climate of uncertainty regarding the nation’s water supplies, more people are looking to develop their own water collection and purification systems. Rainwater harvesting, coupled with proper underground storage and water purification water filtration system, is an increasingly attractive alternative.
At Survival Life Association, we offer rainwater harvesting equipment among the 20,000 products we offer. To learn more about rainwater harvesting, water storage and water purification for your property, please contact us.