March 1, 2016
Public water supply has been of major concern across the U.S. in the wake of the Flint, Mich. problem. Cities across the nation released reports of unexpected lead content in public water supplies, and Jackson, Miss. got plenty of attention.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton released a statement regarding the reports coming out of Jackson.
“I was concerned to hear that tests of drinking water in Jackson, Miss., revealed elevated levels of lead in some homes. I’m heartened that Jackson city officials are taking the right steps to fix the problem, including repeated testing and openness with the results, so families can stay informed,” Clinton’s statement read. “As the emergency in Flint, Mich. has made clear, cities and states must treat these situations with the utmost seriousness, and do everything in their power to ensure that families — especially children — have access to safe, clean drinking water. And we as a nation must make urgent investments to modernize our utilities and infrastructure, to keep families and communities safe and healthy.”
The Jackson water situation differs from that of Flint, Mich. in several ways. The lead in Flint’s water came from its source, while the reports of elevated lead levels in Jackson homes say the lead came from old piping inside those homes.
The Federal Action Level — the level at which the state must take action to correct an issue — for lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion. The highest level recorded out of Jackson was 20 p.p.b, and the average among those tested was 14. In Flint, the highest level recorded was 13,200 p.p.b.
Before the water test results were reported, Jackson public works authorities had revoked a change in water supply systems in response to concerns about contaminants in the water as a result of that change.
Mississippi College gets its water from the city of Clinton’s water supply. While Jackson gets most of its drinking water from surface water sources, Clinton gets its drinking water from water aquifers. Aquifers are layers of water deep underground contained within permeable rock, gravel and sand. Water from these sources is otherwise known as well-water.
Clinton Public Works director Dexter Shelby said that typically, well-water is safer than surface water. “Although it comes from the ground,” he said, “it doesn’t come with the same risk of contaminants that surface water comes with. It’s coming from a natural source underground.”
Shelby said Clinton water is treated with the same Chlorine and Fluoride treatments as Jackson and many other cities.
Shelby said the Mississippi health department has awarded Clinton with a 5 out of 5 water quality score for at least the 5 years. “I’m pretty sure it goes further than that,” he said.
-Will Hawks, Contributing Writer
this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 9 of The Mississippi Collegian