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SpiroFlo summarizes the (to date) two-year saga of Flint’s water crisis and the need for clean water technologies.

Flint Water

LeeAnne Walters displays tap water samples at a public meeting in January 2015. Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press/ZUMA

If you’ve heard of one water story in 2016 it’s the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. If you aren’t familiar, here are the highlights:

  • In April 2014, Flint changes its water source from Detroit Water (which is treated from Lake Huron and the Detroit River) to the Flint River in an effort to cut costs. Although residents complain about the water—its appearance, odor, and flavor—they are assured by city officials that the water is fine (a trend that will continue in the months following). These issues will later be tied to Flint River water being highly corrosive to the aging pipes, leaching unsafe levels of lead into the tap water supply.
  • By August 2014, coliform bacteria (which indicates disease-causing organisms in water) are detected in Flint tap water, prompting city officials to issue a boil advisory. A couple of months later, a General Motors plant ceases using Flint’s municipal water, saying it corrodes their car parts.
  • In January 2015, Detroit Water essentially acknowledges the problem when they offer to switch the city of Flint back without the $4 million reconnection fee. However, Flint’s state appointed emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose, declines the offer and, again, state officials downplay the problem.
  • In February 2015, a Flint resident, LeeAnne Walters, conducts a home water test prompted by her children experiencing hair loss, rashes, and stunted growth. Results show 104 parts per billion of lead in the drinking water and, despite there being no safe level for lead in water, the EPA requires action at lead levels of 15 parts per billion, as elevated of levels of lead in blood can lead to permanent brain damage.
  • In the months following, consultants and state officials insist Flint’s water meets state and federal standards. Meanwhile, the EPA keeps finding high lead levels in Flint water. In August 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality tells Flint to optimize corrosion control (while still denying conclusions drawn by water experts on the harm caused by Flint’s water).
  • In October 2015, Flint city officials begin acknowledging the depth of the problem, urging residents to stop drinking their water. They expand recommendations, distribution of filters, and testing of both the water and people’s blood. The same month, Dan Wyant, the Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, reports that his staff mistakenly used water testing steps for a city half the size of Flint, prompting independent review.
  • In December 2015, Flint declares a state of emergency. President Obama does the same in January 2016, providing the National Guard (to hand out bottled water, filters, and testing kits in the worst-hit neighborhoods) and up to $5+ million in aid. However, Flint officials will later state that the cost of fixing this could be up to $1.5 billion.

Since that time, it’s all been criticisms and finger-pointing. Outside of an apology and an urging for the state to spend $28 million on fixes, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been quiet on what he knew, but protesters have marched outside his home and called for his resignation and arrest. Some believe Flint’s failures are exacerbated by an ongoing disinterest in this largely poor, majority-black city (and poor areas as a whole). There are class action lawsuits and potential manslaughter charges. There are celebrity concerns, with Beyoncé, Cher, the Detroit Lions, the Game, Mark Wahlberg, Pearl Jam, P. Diddy and others sending donations and water bottles to Flint.

And yes, even the ultimate gauge of social awareness, our Twitter feed (@useh2o), has been largely focused on the Flint water crisis these last chunk of months.

However, others note that this water crisis goes far deeper: Environmental activist, Erin Brockovich believes Flint’s water issue could be a national problem. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore put up a letter on his website, noting that people cannot help undo the damage caused to these children, their parents, and life in Flint as a result. Instead of sending bottled water—which will take 20.4 million 16 oz. bottles per day for the next two years (that’s 14,892,000,000 bottles of water for those of you counting along at home)—he recommends revolt.

What I will say is that this tragedy may finally—finally—get Americans to care about water issues. Although current concerns are rightfully on the health of Flint’s residents, the environmental impact will go far beyond potentially 14.9 trillion plastic water bottles. Since 2006. SpiroFlo has worked to reduce the amount of water used and to improve the quality of what’s left in various industries. Water is one of earth’s finest resources and a cornerstone for our survival. Once tainted, we see the ramifications, and once it’s gone it’s gone. Yet even in clean tech circles, there has been little interest in saving and purifying water. While seemingly everything else—wind, solar, nanotechnology, and for some reason, even healthcare software—has had its turn as the environmental buzzword, the importance of clean, available water now has an unfortunate unavoidable example right here in the USA.

Here’s to this awareness prompting change for the good of the world’s water supply and our health.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home), industrial water purification (biofilm removal), and reduced water pumping costs.

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for coal, biosolids, sugar beets, dairy waste, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

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