What we can learn from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan

If you’ve spent any time on social media the past two weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen updates on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Here’s what you need to know about the water crisis and what the city of Lincoln can learn from Flint.

Hoping to save money by finding a new water supply, the government of Flint temporarily switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River. Residents immediately complained of the water’s appearance, smell and taste.

The water had negative effects on the citizens of Flint. Some of the symptoms reported by citizens included rashes and hair loss. The following year, lab tests found lead in children’s blood. The General Motors engine plant stopped using the water because it was rusting their motor parts.

Realizing that the water was harmful, the local government took action to prevent more damage. In October 2015, Snyder spent $1 million for water filters in public schools. He also made the call to switch back to Detroit as its water source. Additionally, Michigan’s legislature and Snyder approved $9.4 million to switch water sources and aid the catastrophe at hand.

While Flint receives aid and has switched back its water source to Detroit, NBC reports that the water caused extensive damage to the city and the current water is still unsafe to drink. Despite the harm caused by the water, and even taking into consideration that 40 percent of the community is impoverished, residents are required to pay for the tainted water.

On Jan. 5, Snyder asked the state of Michigan to sign the federal disaster declaration. This declaration would provide long term aid to Flint, Mich. According to ABC, Obama refuses to sign the declaration and has only agreed to help Flint temporarily by giving Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) permission to aid the city.

How does the Flint crisis affect us in Lincoln? It doesn’t affect us directly, but we can definitely learn from this tragedy.

A concerning study by the University of Nebraska reported that the High Plains Aquifer in Nebraska contains uranium concentration 89 times the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard and nitrate concentration 189 times.

Uranium and nitrate are not the only toxins in our drinking water.The UNL website gives a list of toxins in drinking water that include arsenic, copper, fluoride, lead and sulfate.

Combinations of calcium and magnesium also cause hard water, though not directly toxic. The state of Nebraska requires use of water softening systems that help make the water safer to use, especially when run cool and through a water filtering system.

While this may make you concerned, rest assured that steps exist to purify your water.

Bottled water may seem like a better choice, but this water is often nothing more than tap water that may or may not have received extra filtration. Unsurprisingly, federal requirements for testing bottled water are actually more relaxed than tap water.

Investing in a water filtration system, either through a faucet attachment or a pitcher system is the safest option and the easiest. Be sure to read the label and differences to ensure you find one that removes most contaminants, pollutants, chemicals and heavy metals. Carbon filters and distillation systems are cited as most effective on removing these unwanted impurities.

Finally, if you’re still truly concerned on what may be lurking in your water, you can contact the Lincoln Water System at 402-441-7571.

Angel Phillips is a sophomore studying business administration.