A municipal water disaster can present itself without warning. The potential for adverse health effects can be great. Contact your city’s municipal water department for the latest report on the safety and quality of your water. The following are examples of water disasters that took the residents of these cities by surprise.
Most recently the Flint Michigan water disaster comes to mind. Flint had switched using the Detroit water system to using the Flint River. Soon after, high levels of lead were detected in tested homes. The water from the river was corrosive to the city water pipes which leached lead into the water supply. Lead poisoning can cause organ damage. In children it can cause brain damage.
Our nations capitol Washington, D.C. faced a water crisis when it was discovered that their lead levels were unacceptable. It was found that the change from using chlorine to chloramine caused premature pipe corrosion resulting in lead leaching into the water supply.
Cryptosporidium, a parasite, lives in the intestines of infected humans and animals. Feces from hosts can enter municipal water supplies by farm runoff and storm water. Milwaukee Wisconsin had a cryptosporidiosis outbreak in 1993 which caused illness to 400,000 people. Of which at least 69 people died. This incident became the largest documented waterborne disease outbreak in U.S. History. Cryptosporidium oocysts are tiny and were able to pass through the water facility’s filtration system. Milwaukee has put in place practices that has improved water quality security including water monitoring equipment and updated filters.
In 2014, the Toledo , Ohio metropolitan area residents were under an order not to drink or cook with the water. Samples taken from a water treatment plant indicated a toxin call microcystin. This toxin was a result of a large bloom of algae on Lake Erie. Microcystins form with the conditions of warm stagnant water and oversupply of nutrients. Fertilizer runoff from cropland contributing to the process. Ingestion of this toxin can cause liver damage.
It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have an emergency supply of water in an event of a water crisis. Your water supply should include one gallon of water per person for three days. Ideally This water should be commercially bottled and sealed to ensure its safety. Rotate out bottles with close expiration dates. Include extra water if you have pets.