How long will we watch our children suffer from the water crisis?
How long will we watch our children suffer from the water crisis?
There’s a crisis in America and we all know it. The funny thing—but really not-so-funny thing—is that the government has taken minimal action. We sit here and watch the TV screens display images of the gruesome brown water that the government has okayed to drink. We see images of children getting blood drawn just because the government has ignored the problem for so long, that it’s now affecting our nation’s children.
Lead contamination is an awful thing. It’s a silent contamination. We can’t taste it, we can’t smell it, and often times, when someone is affected by it, it goes unnoticed. Lead has flu-like symptoms for adults, and even worse symptoms for children. These include growth problems and weight loss, a lower IQ, fatigue, hearing loss, irritability, and more.
How can we watch our government do nothing and literally ignore the lead problem that has now ravaged our nation? There are only 9 states that have “safe” lead levels in their water supply.
Safe isn’t even an accurate term, considering the Environmental Protection Agency has declared no amount of lead safe. However, by the EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule, “safe” is defined as less than 15 parts per billion.
The contradictions are also muddying the waters and preventing real change.
These safe states include Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota and Tennessee.
Our infrastructure has failed us. Our government has failed us. So, as citizens of the United States of America, what do we do? What do we have to ask ourselves now?
The issue in schools and daycares
In America, our children come first, but really, they’re being put last.
According the USA Today, the Federal government only requires lead testing in “about 10% of the nation’s schools and a tiny fraction of day cares (1).”
The Safe Drinking Water Act doesn’t cover nearly 90,000 public schools and 500,000 daycare facilities because testing is expected to be conducted by their city or community.
So, is this what happened in all of the schools that withheld vital information from hundreds and even thousands of students and parents?
That’s right. Schools across the country are hiding critical information. At Quakertown Christian School in Pennsylvania, lead levels were four times above the reasonable level in 2013, but it took two years for anything to be said.
In Ithaca, New York, two elementary schools excessively violated the Lead and Copper Rule. Caroline Elementary School had one test with results of 550 parts per billion. Remember, the actionable level is just 15 ppb. Enfield Elementary came back with one test of 280 ppb.
It’s said that tests were taken in September, but parents weren’t informed until February. If there is an actionable level of lead, it is required that a notification to the public should be sent out within 30 days.
Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, a large portion of schools don’t test at all. Their reasoning? They don’t know how.
Not only is this a sign of ignorance, but it’s a sign of negligence. As authority figures of public schools, teachers and superintendents have a responsibility to seek vital information and stay updated on crises across the nation.
Considering Michigan is their neighbor, Wisconsin should be aware of the water crisis’ birthplace: Flint, Michigan. Despite their awareness or lack of, Wisconsin’s teachers and school board members are now sitting in shame.
Such lack of initiative should be considered a crime. Wisconsin’s FOX6 asked the biggest school districts in southeastern Wisconsin if they test their drinking water, and out of those who replied, all answers were no.
In 2004, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said that there are no special programs monitoring or controlling lead in school and daycare drinking water.
So, really, what is the real issue?
Is it misinformation? Is it ignorance? Lack of initiative? Despite the reasoning, there really is no valid reason why teachers and school board members are turning their heads or not turning heads at all.
There needs to be a federal government initiative for every state government to issue appropriate regulation that all schools should individually test for lead in their water. There should be biannual lead testing in schools and daycare facilities.
There is no excuse as to why we are letting this happen and allowing our children to be affected. We are limiting their potential by our own obliviousness. How can we call ourselves the “Land of Opportunity” when we are reducing our children’s capabilities?
Fixing the crisis
Many schools are bringing in filters and sending in bottled water for kids—but filters are often inadequate and bottle water is not always lead-free.
This fix is only temporary. Do they expect to continue this way of life until the end of time?
Temporary fixes are irrelevant—we need change.
Change means changing the infrastructure that lies underneath our schools and daycares. Change means a hefty amount of money. Change means help.
However, the question is always the same. Where will this money come from?
There are plenty of options.
Maybe someone who wins the Powerball will donate a portion to the wondrous nation they live in. Perhaps schools across the nation will start a charity. Or, perhaps the federal government will hop in to assist the states in designing and implementing effective programs to support their country—their children. That would be the ideal option here.
Tell me how we are able to spend nearly 54% of our discretionary federal spending on military costs, while we spend 6.28% on education, 5.86% on veteran care, and 5.93% on medical/health care (2)?
By taking just a mere 5% of $598 billion spent on the military, we could aggregate nearly $30 billion into infrastructure costs. This still leaves military spending at $560 billion, which should be plenty.
The cost of replacing pipes in schools and daycares across America is unknown for now. Replacing pipes is expensive, but there’s no doubt that we can spare 5% of our funds for a start.
Now, to clarify, military spending is undoubtedly necessary. But is $598 billion necessary? We need to think about our logic here. If our children can’t grow up healthy and are unknowingly forced to experience behavioral and mental problems in turn, what portion of these children can’t continue their lives as normal? What portion of these children won’t pursue their dream of fighting for our country because they simply drank American water?
This entire situation is truly sad. Our government is turning heads and playing the silent game. They have held their tongues for too long, but so have we.
As Americans, we need to speak up and have a voice that our country has given us. Start a rally. Start a charity. Start a movement. Do something.
Not only are we not receiving the financial care we need for the water crisis, but Americans aren’t receiving the right education on this crisis either. The EPA holds responsibility for this. As a Federal Government agency, the EPA needs to reach out to every state to ensure that every single state, household, and school in America has this lifesaving information.
There must be pamphlets, presentations, and discussions. An informational movement needs to happen because too many people are unaware of the crisis across America—the silent infection. And if they are aware of the crisis, ignorance and negligence bewilder the rest of us, while authority figures lack initiative and fail to reach out to someone for such vital information.
We need to know how to test the water. We need to know when. We need to know what lead means for us and our children.
We really just need to know what to do.
This is a call for help to the federal government to provide leadership to the States, to help us overcome the problems of toxic water exposures that are affecting our own citizens. Too many of us are in the dark. Lead poisoning is a healthcare crisis. It’s time to act like it.
Children in schools and daycares across America are being severely affected by the water crisis.
Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee are all considered “safe.”
Only about 10% of public schools are tested under Federal government requirements.
Some schools across the U.S. have had exceedances over 36 times the legal limit.
Teachers lack the knowledge that is necessary to keep our children healthy and learning to their fullest extent.
Schools and daycares are offering bottled water as a solution. However, this does not fix the problem.
More donations need to be made from across the nation.
The government spends about $600 billion on military spending.
Our Federal Government holds responsibility for aid in our nation. We are in a crisis–we need education and funds now.
Source 1: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/03/17/drinking-water-lead-schools-day-cares/81220916/
Source 2: https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/