Posted on 06/29/2016

According to a recent report by CNN, over 18 million Americans live in communities where the water systems are in violation of the law. Flint, Michigan is not alone in having serious problems stemming from an abundance of lead in the city's water.

CNN interviewed multiple sources and water experts to gather the data. Erik Olson, health program director at Natural Resources Defense Council, analyzed the EPA's data for its report. He says that governing bodies are doing very little to combat these issues. More than 5,300 water systems in America are in violation of the EPA's lead and copper rule, a federal regulation in place to safeguard America's drinking water from its aging infrastructure, but states took action in just 817 cases and the EPA in just 88 cases.

Flint has illuminated an invisible infrastructure problem. Under the ground, in front yards across the nation, the service lines that bring water to our homes are, in many cases, made of lead. Though toxic, lead used to be preferable for its durability. Federal regulations now mandate that water systems have an anti-corrosion plan, typically consisting of treating the water with an orthophosphate agent that forms a film to protect water moving through lead pipes. In Flint, the lead pipes began leaching toxins into the water after the state of Michigan decided to switch the financially ailing city's drinking water source, and failed to properly treat the water with orthophosphates. To make matters worse, officials who could see the lead water levels rising didn't say anything for months. Meanwhile, families continued drinking the water.

Flint is just one extreme example of the dangers associated with neglecting serious infrastructure and maintenance problems.