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Water Notes-Get the Lead Out


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Lead is prevalent, persistent and pernicious. Too often it is in our drinking water, Like similar metals it breaks down over time. This is particularly true when lead is regularly submitted to the punishing force of a solvent, such as corrosive water, in our pipelines.

There are 1.2 million miles of lead pipelines in the U.S dedicated to delivering water. (This problem is not unique to the U.S.)  The affects of lead on the human body has been well documented.

The price tag to fix this problem, just in the U.S., has been estimated at 1 trillion dollars.

This dollar figure might be considered overwhelming, unless we think of it as an investment. The life span of pipes is placed at 75 years. The deteriorating water pipeline system in the U.S.  is currently losing 16  percent each and every day from leaks. That’s about a day’s worth of water every six days, or about 1.25 trillion gallons per year.

Again, not unique to the U.S. leakage in the UK is 19 percent and France 26 percent.

That leaked water has value and is becoming more precious as water scarcity grows. Saving our resources will become more critical. Getting the lead out at the same time seems like a no brainer.

Some may think, “What about testing.”  Yes, the EPA requires municipalities to test for lead and it also requires notification. But testing, even notification, does not mean treatment. Flint, Michigan is a good example. Taking steps so that lead does not get in the drinking water in the first place seems to make sense.

There is much talk in the U.S. about the federal government repairing our infrastructure. But we seldom see water on the “to do” list.  It’s time to rattle the cage. No matter what country you are in, it seems like a good time to yell, “Get the lead out.”

Even if it is a double entendre.  

Also seems like a perfect place for me to drag out the old saying about killing two birds with one stone.

When I give speeches on water scarcity, I am often asked, “But what can I do?”  Here is where you need to GET THE LEAD OUT. Contact your elected officials. You just might make a difference if you act now.

Shirley Hansen

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