Why Do We Have to Drink Third World Water?

As you probably know already, most of my research and writing has to do with problems in developing countries (also called third world countries). Often my American friends ask why I spend so much time regarding impoverished places outside the United States when there are problems in my home country. Sometimes I respond with the question: “Do you have to worry about whether your water is clean when it comes out of the faucet?” Until recently, no one challenged me on that.

It happens that I live near Detroit, Michigan. It has a long history as being “the motor city” because of so many cars and trucks being produced in and near it. Detroit gets its water from Lake Huron. It is the second-largest of the Great Lakes and has some of the purest water on the planet. Only a minimal amount of treatment is necessary before the water is piped into individual homes.

Flint is only an hour north of me. They are also famous for building cars and trucks and being called “the vehicle city.” Like Detroit, they had a major loss of population in the past five decades. Now it is much more impoverished than its surrounding area. In what was called a temporary effort to cut costs almost two years ago, the water intake was shifted from what Detroit was providing Flint from Lake Huron to the Flint River which flows through the city. Unfortunately, the people who could have done so did not add some chemicals that would have prevented lead from leaching into the pipes that bring water from the Flint Water Treatment Plant to residents and businesses. As a result, many people, especially babies and young children, got sick. The consequences of lead poisoning is extremely serious and can last a lifetime with possible brain damage. Almost no one questions the fact that the effort to save some dollars in the short-term have caused long-term consequences that will be very expensive to fix.

Now the story about Flint water is going all over the U.S. and many other countries. One Flint woman asked the question: “Why do we have to drink third world water?” It is not an easy one to answer.

For the short term, millions of pounds of clean bottled water has been brought to Flint. People there use it to drink, cook, and bathe. However, that is not a long-term solution. It may require spending hundreds of millions of dollars in replacing pipes and doing other upgrades (which could have been avoided for only a very tiny percentage of that cost). I do not have any expertise on the subject, but at least I am trying to do my part by collecting bottled water and helping it get to a church in Flint so that they can distribute it where needed.

The subject of clean water is mentioned many times in the Bible. It is just as vital today as it was back then.

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