Milwaukee Mayor Barrett facing controversial hazard dilemma over toxic lead pipe laterals affecting 70,000 homes and a local coalition wants those lead pipe laterals removed as soon as possible.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
June 16, 2016
Milwaukee, WI – On Thursday, the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC) called on City of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to suspend all street and sidewalk construction in areas where 70,000 homes with lead pipe laterals are still being used for fresh water flow into residential areas. FLAC request that city officials test those areas with lead pipe laterals where construction is taking place to see, if a protective phosphorus compound introduced into the water flow to serve as a protective cover to prevent lead from getting into the fresh water flow is still intact and has not been loosen causing a health lead toxic hazard.
During a press conference on Thursday, FLAC released the following news release, that in January 2016, before the Guardian released its report citing over 30 cities, including Milwaukee, were identified as water testing “cheats” for lead in water FLAC members questioned Superintendent Carrie Lewis’ statement at the January 2016 Rules and Steering committee meeting in which she gave a power point presentation indicating her department used “end of line” water testing method for lead in our water. During this same presentation the superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works (MWW) told members of the committee that residents were instructed to flush out their pipes before taking samples of water to test for lead. FLAC members have stated publicly for weeks before the Guardian article was released that “end of line”, “pre-flushing” or “pre-stagnation” method of testing is unacceptable.
Running water to test for lead is not a mandated method of testing water for lead by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA guidelines were suggestive methods of testing, according to EPA officials from Region 5 Office in Chicago, which serves Wisconsin.
For over twenty years Milwaukee has added a phosphorous compound to its drinking water. The compound coats pipes to control lead corrosion, but recent concerns regarding heavy construction around the city has brought to light that this protective phosphorous compound is being loosened by the pounding of machines breaking apart sidewalks and streets in which many of these toxic lead pipes are located.
We call on the Mayor of Milwaukee to suspend construction in the city where lead laterals are concentrated, and to send city engineers to inspect if in fact the vibrations from the construction work taking place are loosening the phosphorous compound from the inner lining of these hazardous lead pipes.
We also seek from the mayor a directive ordering MWW to go to the neighborhoods impacted by the street and sidewalk construction work and test the drinking water for lead spiking caused by the heavy construction in their neighborhood.
In light of the recent Guardian report, FLAC is calling upon the Mayor of Milwaukee to test the water of homes identified as having lead lateral pipes by using “front draw” method of testing. This method of water testing takes samples from the faucet as soon as the water pours after sitting in the lead pipes for 6 hours or more.
In February 2016 the EPA released new recommendations for testing lead in our drinking water. By following the new recommended Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines regarding lead water testing the city will be undertaking a proactive approach to ensure the safety of our drinking water.
The results of the water sampling and engineering assessment should be made public immediately upon return.
In addition, FLAC calls upon Mayor Barrett to initiate a comprehensive strategic removal and funding plan designed to remove these 70,000 lead pipes over using a progressive time schedule to get it done.
The City of Milwaukee cannot be considered the “Freshwater Capitol of the World” or the “Fresh Coast City”, if they will not provide lead-free drinking water to the people that live in its own backyard.
Find City of Milwaukee properties with lead pipe laterals by address at http://goo.gl/poY5yv
Members of the coalition are:
Fred Royal – NAACP, Milwaukee Branch
Rev. Willie Brisco – WISDOM
Dr. Pat McManus – Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin
Student Minister William Muhammad – Justice or Else Local Organizing Committee (LOC)
Brenda Bell-White – Justice or Else Local Organizing Committee (LOC)
Laura Manriquez – Southside Advocates For A Better Environment (SAFE)
Former Alderwoman, Atty. Larraine McNamara McGraw – Horizons Law Group, LLC
Rodney Washington – Environmental Activist
Robert Miranda – Editor of the Wisconsin Spanish Journal
Chris Johnson – KINGFISHmke