The following was submitted by Progress Illinois reader Alexis Stein.
The Flint, Michigan water crisis has led us to question the safety of our water and alerted Americans to the faulty infrastructure and lax environmental regulations that threaten our water supply. As you mention in your recent article ("Flint water crisis indicative of larger problem facing low-income communities," Feb. 2), an under-regulated water supply has the potential to become a national epidemic that disproportionately affects underserved communities. As a Chicagoan, I worry what may be flowing from my and my neighbors' taps.
This issue extends beyond lead. The U.S. EPA found that pollution from agriculture contributes to poor water quality in more than 100,000 miles of rivers and streams, along with 2,500 square miles of lakes in the United States. In 2014, runoff from agricultural operations contributed to a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie, which contaminated the drinking water for 500,000 people around Toledo, Ohio.
Corporate agribusinesses are failing to implement measures, like buffer zones and cover crops, to protect our water, our health, and our communities. It is possible to stop this pollution at the source if we ensure that corporate agribusinesses begin to responsibly dispose of their waste. This risk to public health affects all of Illinois. If we don't stand up now, we may face another water crisis much closer to home.