(Capital News file photo)

In Our Opinion: Wat-er you going to do about it?

Prince Rupert’s “water worse than Flint” sensationalized comparison

The City of Prince Rupert is in a frenzy over a national news story about lead levels in drinking water being higher than those of Flint, Michigan.

First off, was it fair to compare the data to that of Flint’s?

No.

Was it anything we didn’t already know?

No.

To compare Prince Rupert’s situation to that of Flint’s — an event associated with officials arrested for negligence in switching their water supply and residents forced to drink out of contaminated municipal lead pipes (something which we do not have in Prince Rupert) — is misleading.

In fact, the city’s pipes are not the cause of the lead contamination, but rather the homeowners’ pipes, which are not the city’s responsibility.

READ MORE: City of Prince Rupert says “water worse than Flint” data is misrepresentative

However if Prince Rupert’s numbers are testing higher than that of Flint’s, regardless of cause, then it is fair enough to associate the issue with a disaster that is still in the public conscience, no matter how arbitrary it may seem.

After all, “lead levels above those of Flint” does get the severity of the issue across better than “lead levels above national guidelines.”

Be that as it may, the whole investigation takes away from the real questions that should be on residents’ minds.

National news caters to a national audience, and the students and media companies did a service to Canadians by highlighting the urgency of the water issue.

But Rupertites knew this already, just as there were likely other communities on the list who were also aware of their lead problem.

Rupertites knew of the city’s lead problem in February 2016 when The Northern View reported that unacceptable amounts of lead were found in the water at four schools, and again we reported in August of this year when the city found elevated levels of lead in homes following first flushing tests.

READ MORE: Elevated levels of lead found in homes after City of Prince Rupert tests first flushing

READ MORE: Unacceptable levels of lead found in water at four schools

Let’s not allow the sensationalism of the “Flint” word and national news reporting to distract us from the real local problem at hand for Rupertites.

For Rupertites the real question on our minds should be “there’s lead in our water, so what are we going to do about it?”

According to the World Health Organization, any level of lead is of concern so we cannot wait to fix the problem.

In August, when the city released the results of their tests, the City stated that any residents who suspected they may have lead pipes in their home should go see a professional.

In addition, homeowners had to do their own water testing.

Sadly, there really isn’t anything more the city can do.

Like asbestos, a faulty furnace or a leaking roof, it is now the homeowners responsibility not the taxpayers.

So, the real question is: For homeowners with lead pipes — wat’er you gonna do about it?

READ MORE: City of Prince Rupert announces $22M for water treatment project

READ MORE IN OUR OPINION: Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidate Danny Nunes candidacy not funny


Jenna Cocullo | Journalist
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