EPA water use handout project aims at hard-to-reach residents, faces funding needs

IMG_5614By Jan Worth-Nelson

Note:  This is an updated version of a story appearing in the April hard copy of East Village Magazine  based on information available when the hard copy went to press.  More information has since become available

            A two-sided color handout from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed explicitly for Flint details what residents need to know about the city’s “new normal” until the water can be declared safe.  But getting the handout to those who might need it most has been complicated by a lack of funds.

The handout, which local water response teams hope will soon be distributed city wide, clarifies in one compact summary what water to drink, what water to use, how to use filters and other strategies for coping with Fint’s water crisis.

Jane Richardson, liaison for a communications workgroup of a larger coalition of community partners formed in response to the crisis, said the brochure was designed especially to inform residents with literacy issues or without digital access.

So far, she said, 19 separate populations have been identified, “ranging from those who don’t have or use websites to those who cannot read or use English to those who are homebound or homeless or newcomers to visually or hearing impaired.”

Distribution of the flyer has been complicated by a lack of funds, Richardson said. She said unless a response to the crisis has to do directly with getting water to residents, access to financial resources has been challenging.

She said in the most recent preparation for distributing the flyer, the EPA logo was removed because of widespread public distrust of the EPA in the wake of its role in the crisis.

The original version of the flyer was dated March 17, but the most recent version is dated simply “April.”

The basics summarized: Who should drink what

According to the handout, pregnant women breastfeeding women, all kids under age six (including those on baby formula) should drink ONLY bottled water.

For kids older than six, teenagers, adults and pets, ONLY bottled water and filtered water are safe.

When unfiltered water is safe

The EPA advises that unfiltered water is okay for washing hands and bathing, but says not to let the water get into your – or your kid’s — mouth.

Unfiltered water is safe for washing dishes, the handout advises, except for washing baby bottled and kids’ cups – for that purpose, filtered water is advised.

The new plumbing protocols

The handout calls for several daily plumbing-based rituals as well, advising:

  • Every morning, run unfiltered cold water for at least five minutes to flush the pipes.
  • Every week, clean the aerators in all facets and clean the screens in your water filters.

Guidelines on filter use

The handout details guidelines, with illustrations included, for using filters as follows:

  • First, check that it is NSF-Certified to remove lead.
  • Follow the manual that comes with the filter for correct installation.
  • Do not run hot water through the filter.
  • Start with cold filtered water and then heat to cook.
  • Flush the hot water heater tank regularly, following the manufacturer’s instructions or relying on a licensed professional professional.
  • Change the filter when the indicator turns red.

In addition, the handout illustrates how to clean faucet aerators and lists resources for Flint residents. The handout suggests that for more information, residents can email flintwater@epa.gov, go to www.epa.gov/Flint, or call the EPA’s hotline, 810-434-5122.

Jan Worth-Nelson is the editor of East Village Magazine. She can be reached at janworth1118@gmail.com.


Author: East Village Magazine

A Non-profit, Community News Magazine Since 1976

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