A Grassroots Effort to Prioritize Clean Water
You don’t think it can happen to you until it does. Or to someone living right around the corner.
On Friday, July 27th, we received an urgent message from our Congressman warning residents of Parchment, a community fifty miles southeast of our home, to stop drinking the city’s water immediately. Congressman Fred Upton warned “ . . . any resident on the City of Parchment’s water supply system to immediately stop using their water for drinking, cooking, making baby formula and food, or rinsing fruits and vegetables. High amounts of the chemical PFAS have been found in the water supply of the City of Parchment.
"Boiling water will not remove PFAS. Common residential filters do not treat PFAS. Swallowing PFAS is the primary way it can get into your
Once again, a community in the Great Lakes region is in crisis because of the quality of water. But this is not just a Parchment issue. It could be ours as well. Recent news stories have warned that PFOS and PFOA chemical substances (polyfluoroalkyl) may be seven to ten times higher in our country’s drinking water than recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The health risks are numerous and serious. As a result, a bipartisan group in Congress is calling for an increase in EPA involvement in addressing the PFOS and PFOA issue.
But the EPA has been gutted, funding significantly reduced, authority limited. How do we prevent another Parchment? Toledo? Flint? How do we clean up and protect our sources of fresh water?
Fourteen years ago, President George W. Bush declared the Great Lakes a national treasure and commissioned a study to assess the health of the world’s largest body of fresh surface water and create an action plan to address the challenges. And yet, the lakes remain at risk. Our water remains at risk. The challenges are more serious, more numerous than when I first began this journey; when I made it a priority to help build the political will necessary to clean up and protect these waters so integral to so many lives.
While there has been progress over the last nine years, it is slow and limited. Beaches continue to be closed because of E. coli contamination from sewage overflows caused by antiquated water treatment facilities; consumers are warned to limit consumption of fish; pharmaceuticals, plastics, and chemicals pose risks to the safety of the drinking water and the health of the ecosystem; aging oil pipelines threaten Lakes Michigan and Huron; invasive species, like the Asian carp, could decimate a $6 billion fishing industry; and Lake Erie—considered the bellwether lake—is being choked to death by algae.
We cannot afford slow and limited.
As a result, every week for the foreseeable future, I am going to pose a question to those in office—and those seeking my vote—about an issue effecting the quality of Great Lakes water. I am going to place the burden of research and explanations on the politicians’ shoulders; ask them to explain their plan for addressing the issues; their plan to prevent—rather than react—to a water quality crisis.
The question will be posted on Mondays—on my website and Facebook page. And while the specifics may be tied to the Great Lakes, the issues facing the quality of our water are universal—apply to all governments, all agencies across North America. So regardless of location, I hope you join the campaign. Just copy and paste the question on emails to your elected officials and those running for office. And please help spread the word.
Responses will be posted only on this website under the McKSchmidt Questions. As I gave my representatives a head start, I hope you find the responses—and lack of responses—as telling as I do.
Will you join me in making the quality of our water a 2018 election issue?
The McKSchmidt Questions: Week 1
Why I care: After reading about the toxic algae blooms that shut down Toledo’s water supply in 2014, the discovery of lead in Flint’s drinking water that same year, the 2017 uncovering of toxic chemicals dumped by Wolverine World Wide in the 1960s and 1970s that affected the groundwater in Kent County, and the July 2018 report that the groundwater in as many as 15 Michigan communities may have levels of PFAS chemicals that are 7 to 10 times higher than what is recommended by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention--higher in the city of Parchment, MI--I am no longer taking clean, safe drinking water for granted. Neither should you.
Question: What are you doing to ensure our drinking water is clean and safe?
(Copy and paste the above and email it to your existing and potential representatives.)
My Email Contact List:
Currently in office
President Trump: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
U. S Congress: https://upton.house.gov/contact/
U.S. Senate: https://www.stabenow.senate.gov/contact
U.S. Senate: https://www.peters.senate.gov/contact/email-gary
Michigan Governor: https://somgovweb.state.mi.us/GovRelations/ShareOpinion.aspx
Allegan County State Senator: https://www.senatortonyaschuitmaker.com/contact/
Allegan County State Representative: http://gophouse.org/representatives/southwest/whiteford/contact/
Laketown Township Supervisor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Those seeking my vote
How to find you federal representatives
Senate: https://www.senate.gov (Top left side of home page)
How to find your state representatives (each state varies slightly)
Legislator: Search for legislature.yourstate.gov
Senator: Search for yourstatesenate.gov
For more information on "Why I Care":
- Kent County: https://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2017/10/wolverines_toxic_legacy.html
- Parchment: https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/2018/07/27/water-contaminated-kalamazoo-pfas/84761