I struggle to find the right word to describe the lead poisoning of Flint, Michigan. “Debacle” is pretty close, but there’s a lightness about it, a humor to it that doesn’t fit the gravity of poisoning and permanently damaging the health and intellect of thousands of children. “Scandal” poses it as a political issue, rather than a humanitarian atrocity. “Crisis” suggests something that something that occurs suddenly and can be suddenly solved.
With it all so fresh in our minds, the news that lead was showing up in the water in Tacoma, and that Seattle Public Utilities was advising residents to run their taps before drinking from them caused some serious freak out.
Unlike Flint, where lead from aging pipes were to blame, in Tacoma and Seattle they believe the problem is restricted to the galvanized steel gooseneck connectors that link the water mains to some houses built between in the 1920’s through 1950’s. For those homes (and they estimate there are around 2,000 of them), they suggest running the tap for a couple minutes before drinking if the water hasn’t been used in the house for more than six hours.
So, dear Wallingford, where so many houses were built in the 1920’s to 1950’s, you’re wondering whether your house is safe? SPU has released a map that will show you what type of connector your house has and (hopefully) help you rest easy. Just zoom in to your home and click the red line linking the water main to your address. As you can see from my map, I’ve got copper, so the only thing I have to worry about is the unquestionably unpalatable taste. Hope you’re in the same boat!