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Water activists meet in Flint to discuss ongoing effects of lead contamination, water affordability

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Dozens of water activists attended a conference in Flint Wednesday.

The conference examined the ongoing effects of lead, PFASand other contaminantsturning up in public drinking water supplies.

Flintbecame the poster child for problemswith municipal water systems several years ago.   But it’s hardly alone.

Alicia Smith is an activist in Toledo, where cyanobacteria from Lake Erie contaminated and shut down the city’s tap water in 2014.

“Anytime without water is a public crisis,” says Smith. “Anytime that you’re not able to have what you need as an essential, a necessity for your family is a crisis.”

Conference participants say more needs to be done to eliminate contamination from drinking water sources. Affordability is also a major issue.

“This is not a new issue,” says Debra Taylor, CFO of We the People of Detroit. “And it is not (only) germane to Flint, Detroit, Michigan. This is actually a worldwide issue around water affordability and access to clean affordable water.”

Much of the conversation at the conference centered on the lack of trust communities have in government officials who try to reassure them about the quality of their tap water.


Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.