By Miriam Raftery
Photos: Lead contaminated drinking water in Flint, Michigan; photo by Jessica Owens
February 11, 2016 (San Diego) -- In response to the crisis in Flint, Michigan, the House of Representatives voted to require water system officials to alert their customers if the EPA notifies them of increasing level of lead. The Safe Drinking Water Act Improved Compliance Awareness Act (H.R. 4470) passed the House on a strong bipartisan vote of 416-2 with all five of San Diego’s Congressional members voting for the bill.
Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) issued this statement after the vote. “People have the right to know of elevated levels of lead in their water,” said Davis. “Residents should never have to worry about the safety of their drinking supply and the fact this happened at all is a betrayal of basic good governance. This bill will ensure that consumers are not left in the dark when comes to water safety. Congress should continue to look at ways to help Flint and ensure this doesn’t happen in other communities.”
After the leak of an EPA report showing elevated levels of lead in Flint’s water, which local officials denied, an independent investigation by Virginia Tech University found high lead levels in 40% of the homes tested.
The increase in lead was due to Flint switching to a local water source, the Flint River, which contains more corrosive water and needed to be treated with anti-corrosive agents. The water, however, was not being treated. Flint has since gone back to getting its water from Lake Huron, which is less corrosive.
As a result of the crisis, serious health concerns have been raised. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead exposure, which can cause irreversible brain and nervous system damage.