I don’t think I am being alarmist or histrionic when I say clean water may be the new frontier for battles to come. As we hear more about the tainted drinking water in Baltimore, MD, we see images of the black water coming out of the faucets in Jackson, MS, we hear conflicting stories about possible arsenic in the water in some of New York City’s housing projects, and we remember that Flint, MI has been without clean drinking water for years now, I fear clean water could become a scarce resource in years to come.
The shameful part of the lack of clean water in cities large and small is a disinvestment in infrastructure over years and in some cases decades. For many cities, their lack of investment in changing lead pipes that carries the clean water to homes and apartments has led to harmful and undrinkable water for far too many communities.
For example, New York state has some of the cleanest water in the United States. However, clean drinking water is only as good as the pipes that carry it. When lead from pipes gets into the water supply and renders it undrinkable, it no longer matters that the clean water comes from northern areas that are pristine and protected from chemicals and pollutants. Once dangers exist in the water supply, it is incredibly difficult to reverse the course.
The good news is that there are ways you can test your water as well as contribute to the collective effort to keep information about our water supply readily available for scientists and those who work to protect our water supply.
During the Bloomberg mayoral era, he implemented the 311 system where you can either call or log onto www.portal.311.nyc.gov to request a lead in drinking water test kit. This easy-to-use kit is truly a great resource to the city and its residents. The kit is completely free. The address labels are provided so you do not have to worry about postage. The box is provided. And the entire testing process takes mere minutes.
It is incredibly important that we know how clean our drinking water is in our homes and apartments. It is also important for the city to know which buildings, blocks, and neighborhoods have potentially dangerous levels of lead in their water.
Getting your water tested is a small task you can complete to contribute to the larger effort to help assess our city water quality. In doing so, you are contributing to a larger effort that could help catch any issues that arise in the water supply. We are on this planet together and in this city together, getting your water tested is just one small step towards helping protect all residents of New York City. Call or log on to 311 today to get your kit!
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC and host of The Blackest Questions podcast at TheGrio.