Located four hours to the southeast of Flint, Michigan, there’s another town facing a potential lead crisis in its drinking water. Sebring, Ohio, a town of 4,000 people, had to close schools and issue an advisory after multiple homes were tested and showed signs of elevated lead and copper levels. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
The city manager of Sebring, a small town of some 4,000 people located about 60 miles south of Cleveland, issued an advisory Thursday night warning children and pregnant women to avoid drinking the village system’s tap water after seven of 20 homes showed levels of copper and lead beyond US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.
The warning comes as neighboring Michigan grapples with a lead-poisoning crisis in Flint – a disaster that experts say underscores the growing need for investment and innovation in the nation’s aging infrastructure. A weakened economy and the passage of time have made repair and replacement of old pipes a challenge, and have led to higher costs and a decline in water quality, especially in many older cities.
Indeed, in Sebring, smaller distribution lines and old homes with lead pipes appear to be the source of lead in the water, Ohio EPA spokesman James Lee told WFMJ-TV in Youngstown. Results showed lead levels in the seven homes at 21 parts per billion, exceeding the EPA’s recommended 15 parts per billion. Lead exposure is associated with serious health issues for young children and infants.
One of the key issues in Flint is also a factor in Sebring: A water infrastructure that is entirely unsuitable for current demands. Older and poorer cities and towns—especially those in the Rust Belt, where a declining population base makes it harder and harder to pay for municipal upgrades—are hit hardest by this deficiency. Perhaps the governments in states like Ohio and Michigan should take this issue seriously and approve the funding required for people to drink clean and safe water.
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