Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Flint Michigan, and the Realities of Water Supplies: DIY Solutions Texans Have Used For Decades

I was glad to see the indictments come down against the local officials who hid problems with Flint Michigan's water quality.  Just as East Orange, New Jersey, faced up to dereliction of duty by employees and local politicians in its water management, so must Flint,

There are health issues that now must be addressed, caused by the unknowns in the past. The website "" has good information on what is known so far, and what is being done. They also have factual info about how residents themselves can improve water quality in their homes - in some instances by simply using more water:
"The very low water use rates in some Flint homes, hinders recovery of the system due to the improved corrosion control. Less water use means that the orthophosphate and chlorine added to help improve the water quality and reduce lead and bacteria, are not flowing through the homes as much as is desired. Regular water use is needed to help clean out loose lead deposits and control biofilms within the pipes.  Moreover, occasionally drawing water at a high rate from a tap with unrestricted flow such as a roman bath spout, hose bib or mud sink, will help to achieve velocities inside pipes that are needed to scour deposits that contain lead and iron rust."

It was the city government's responsibility to notify the residents about the acidic water, but at this point, the people - the residents and citizens - of Flint Michigan are now solely responsible for the safety of their future drinking water. No one else. Whatever or whoever caused it, now the people know about it and they need to come together to fix it, just as they would take action to repair their car or their roof or their church.

Waiting on government will just make them feel more helpless.

But they also need to know they are not alone with these problems. Despite the fact that the media pretends this is some new crisis, in reality people all over America have been solving this kind of water problem for themselves, as individuals and as communities, for decades.

When I was growing up in Oklahoma, we knew never to drink water from the hot water tap, and to let the water run for a minute before filling a jug or pot. That advice has been around for as long as indoor plumbing. The folks in Flint (and elsewhere) must not have been taught that, but now they know these measures are essential, just as they were 60 years ago.  People living in other communities need to take note, and apply these safety precautions as well.

I raised my children in West Texas, where we have been buying our drinking/cooking water in gallon jugs or refilling milk jugs at "Water Stores" (seriously) or via under-sink Reverse Osmosis Filtering machines, since the 1970s, due to the high level of salts and minerals in local water supplies. It is the normal way of life for most people in the western half of Texas.

In old houses today, it is easy to run new flexible lines to faucets because the new lines can remain above ground, they don't have to be buried. Neighborhoods can get together and pool their resources and labor to do this work.

When it comes to the original problem that Flint faced, the need for a pipeline to a new city water supply, there is a precedent for that too.

Olney Texas has twice faced the need for new water pipelines that they could not afford.. so they took responsibility and laid those lines themselves.

It was supposed to cost a million dollars and take a year. It took the townspeople 25 hours and cost $350.

ALL the citizens turned out and labored for free, under direction, to solve their problem. Here are the stories, from 1978, and again in 1984. There's no hype, this is what really happened:,,20071429,00.html
"A firm of consulting engineers told Mayor Alan Myers Jr. of Olney, Texas that the town's rapidly diminishing water supply would evaporate altogether within 120 days unless a highly unlikely deluge of rains came. In the best of times Olney, a community of some 5,000 in the arid cactus-and-mesquite country west of Dallas, gets no more than 24 inches of rain a year, and for the past four years of drought less than half that amount has fallen. The shortage was compounded by a heat wave that parched Texas with searing temperatures of over 100° every day for 35 days. "It scared me to death," said Mayor Myers. "It looked like we didn't have much farther to go." 
The solution—to pipe in water from lakes out of the drought zone—would cost a million dollars (the entire town budget), the engineers said, and take a year. "The town would have died before we could finish," says Myers, "even if we could afford it." He and Acting City Manager Jack Northrup set out to find an alternate plan. If a pipeline could somehow be built from Olney's cracked and drying Lake Cooper to Lake Kickapoo, part of the Wichita Falls reservoir system 14 miles away, the crisis might be averted. 
The Wichita Falls city council agreed to sell a million gallons a day, but the problem remained of finding pipe and laying it down fast. A friend of the mayor's remembered "invasion pipe," which Army engineers had installed aboveground in combat zones during World War II. "He said there might be some in storage somewhere, so I started calling around to see." 
Meanwhile word of the daring project filtered through the churches, Rotary and Lions clubs and Rodge's, the town's only cafe. "Jack Northrup told me the people were saying they could lay the pipe themselves if I could get it," says Myers. Within a few days he located a supply of 1940 invasion pipe in Texas state warehouses. 
Olney rose instantly to the occasion in the spirit of the town motto: "Lead, follow—or get out of the way." On July 14 some 230 unlikely pipeliners—merchants, lawyers, executives, ranchers, Mayor Myers and the one-armed Northrup—put signs on their homes, offices and shops: "Closed. Gone for water."   Click through to read the rest...

Then, six years later, they had to extend the pipeline (click through to read the newspaper scan:,210509&hl=en 

Oh and the latest drought brought the problem back, so this time they are taking a new approach, they are going to reuse their treated sewer water:

Never feel helpless against the problems you face. God created us to be problem solvers for ourselves. Take a new look at whatever challenges your family, your home, your community, and talk to others. Fnd out what YOU can do. We CAN help ourselves and our neighbors, and will have better results and happier lives because of it.

5/11/2016:  Thanks to Bill Quick over at Daily Pundit for the link

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