Madison, Wisconsin Handled its Water Problem

Legal Article

Madison, Wisconsin Handled its Water Problem

The problems of lead exposure in the pipes of Flint, Michigan has now been well-exposed.  But, today the Washington Post reports on a different response–the correct response.

Madison residents and businesses dug out and replaced their lead pipes — 8,000 of them. All because lead in their water had been measured at 16 parts per billion — one part per billion over the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard.

Essentially, when Madison found lead in its water, the city decided to protect its residents from lead poisoning with the only way that was full proof.  The project was obviously costly, but no more costly to the citizens then fighting the sequelae of lead poisoned adults and children for the next 50 years.

“As long as there are lead pipes in the ground or lead plumbing in homes, some risk remains,” David LaFrance, chief executive of the American Water Works Association, noted when its board voted unanimously in March to back such efforts. The association, which represents water utilities, regulators and plant operators, drew more than 100 managers to Washington this week to discuss various strategies.

“As a society,” LaFrance said, “we should seize this moment of increased awareness about lead risks to develop solutions for getting the lead out.”

Neither Madison, nor Flint are the only cities to deal with lead tainted water.  Lead poisoning is actually far more rampant than the public would think.  And, it should be clear, that lead is not the only toxic substance that can seep into household water.

All cities and municipal corporations should follow the lead of Madison.  While Madison’s project of replacing all the lines of water usage may not be feasible for every city, the spirit of what Madison did is the true model.  Its not enough to the least possible; our cities and water providers should do all they can to ensure that our public water is safe to drink and use.