Expert Pitch

Water bill must be coupled with education campaigns to achieve faith in public water

Cornell University
30-Apr-2021 4:30 PM EDT, by Cornell University

The Senate has approved a bipartisan, $35 billion bill to upgrade the country’s water infrastructure, a measure that would clean up the nation’s water supply. 

Jerel Ezell is professor of Africana studies and an expert in health disparities and social inequality in post-industrial communities. Ezell has worked on city infrastructure challenges in Flint, Michigan and his new research shows that five years after the beginning of the Flint water crisis, 29% of residents had associated PTSD symptoms, with higher rates observed among Black residents.

Ezell says:

“This rare moment of bipartisanship is welcome, and this bill takes a small, but important, step in acknowledging the importance of clean water as a basic human right. However, while this legislation will do a good deal to address some of the long-standing technical issues plaguing our national water supply, infrastructure upgrades alone will not motivate communities who are used to limited water potability to use it.

“This bill must be reinforced by earnest public engagement and education campaigns on water consumption, particularly in low-income and racial/ethnic minority communities like those in Flint, Michigan which have routinely been subjected to poor tasting water that has been unsafe to drink or bathe in and at times disastrous for their health.”

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