The US is in a water crisis far worse than most people imagine

A sample of tap water taken in Flint, Michigan. Photograph: Garrett MacLean/The Guardian

Industrial runoff and lax standards have tainted water across the US. Senators and doctors are calling me, asking what to do

When I was a little girl, my father would sing songs to me all the time about water. Sometimes, we would be playing down at the creeks and he would make up little tunes: “See that lovely water, trickling down the stream, don’t take it for granted, someday it might not be seen.”

My dad worked for many years as an engineer for Texaco and later for the Department of Transportation. Before he died, he told me that in my lifetime water would become a commodity more valuable than oil or gold, because there would be so little of it. Sadly, I believe he was right.

Our water has become so toxic that towns are issuing emergency boil notices and shipping in bottled water to their residents. In 2016, as I started research for my new book Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It, members of our very own US Congress had their water shut down in Washington due to unsafe lead levels.

We are in a water crisis beyond anything you can imagine. Pollution and toxins are everywhere, stemming from the hazardous wastes of industry and agriculture. We’ve got more than 40,000 chemicals on the market today with only a few hundred regulated. We’ve had industrial byproducts discarded into the ground and into our water supply for years. This crisis affects everyone – rich or poor, black or white, Republican or Democrat. Communities everywhere think they are safe when they are not.

Each water system is unique, but some of the most toxic offenders include hexavalent chromium (an anticorrosive agent), PFOA (used to make Teflon pans), PFOS (a key ingredient in Scotchgard), TCE (used in dry cleaning and refrigeration), lead, fracking chemicals, chloramines […]

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The US is in a water crisis far worse than most people imagine
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The US is in a water crisis far worse than most people imagine
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We are in a water crisis beyond anything you can imagine. It affects everyone. Communities everywhere think they are safe when they are not.
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The Guardian
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