Michigan Water Crisis:
Remembering Our Mission and Offering Proven Expertise
Jan. 27, 2016
By Michael R. Copp, PHCC Executive Vice President
The PHCC Federation is highly concerned about recent events unfolding in Flint, Michigan, regarding the contamination of its drinking water. It’s been reported by CNN that “Virginia Tech researchers found the water [from the Flint River] was highly corrosive. A class-action lawsuit alleges the state Department of Environmental Quality didn’t treat the water for corrosion, in accordance with federal law, and because so many service lines to Flint are made of lead, the noxious element leached into the water of the city’s homes.”
PHCC’s Mission, in part, is “dedicated to ensuring the health, safety, and comfort of society while protecting the environment.” This mission was born from a flourishing market of indoor plumbing in the 1880s, which necessitated the need for appropriately trained tradesmen installing and maintaining “pipes, tanks, fittings, and other apparatus required for the distribution of potable water for drinking, heating and washing, and waterborne waste removal.”
Lead toxicity was described in documents dating back to at least the second century B.C., and, moreover, the manifestation of neurological symptoms have been known to be irreversible for many generations. And yet in 2016, unbelievably, 100,000 residents of a city in a developed nation finds themselves demanding their right to safe drinking water, a primary precept of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) enacted back in 1974.
So here we are, members of a historic trade association dedicated to the health and safety of society, watching these tragic events unfold: events caused by what has been reported as cost-saving measures by pumping water out of the Flint River as opposed to Lake Huron. Given PHCC’s mission, it is clear that what is playing out in Flint, Michigan, provides an opportunity for PHCC to remind consumers and local officials to hire highly trained and licensed PHCC professionals. PHCC members are skilled in delivering safe drinking water using best industry practices to protect the public’s health and safety.
PHCC agrees with comments released by the American Water Works Association (AWWA): “As an association, we exist to help our members first, so we try in a situation like this to collect the information from the event that is going to help them understand it and help them do their jobs better.” A key role in situations like these, AWWA adds, is helping members work with their customers.
PHCC staff is exploring options for supporting the PHCC of Michigan and its local chapters impacted by this disaster. In the meantime, we need to actively remind lawmakers, regulators, and other officials to engage the PHCC community and its extensive expertise before making decisions that may compromise the health, safety, and welfare of consumers.