Each Monday morning I spend an hour or so reading recent articles focusing on water. Today, I found myself down a rabbit hole of articles focused on inadequate plumbing in low-income communities. Residents in a trailer park in Milton-Freewater, Oregon don’t have access to safe drinking water.
In fact, they haven’t been able to access drinking water for over 5 months. E. Coli is a major concern in the water there, so the Trailer Park owner combats it by adding large amounts of Chlorine. The storage tanks are now eroding due to the chlorine, and causing other health problems. Tenants of the trailer park are forced to pay for bottled water.
This isn’t the only instance of low-income communities suffering from the high cost of functioning water. The New York Times recently showcased the reality of inadequate access to affordable plumbing and clean water.
“Nearly half a million households in the United States lack the basic dignity of hot and cold running water, a bathtub or shower, or a working flush toilet. […] The absence has implications for public health in the very population that is the most vulnerable.” -Sabrina Tavernise, NYT
In some specific instances, there are options for low-income home owners needing septic systems to deal with wastewater. However, eligibility must be determined, which takes a considerable amount of time. In addition, not all expenses are typically covered.
Little has changed in the past year in Flint, Michigan. The median income of a household in Flint is $44,025: nearly $12,000 less than the US median household income. It’s easy for outsiders to say, Just move if it’s a problem. Without enough income to move, paired with a high vacancy rate (meaning an inability to sell,) many residents in Flint are stuck.
Poor sanitation, insufficient water access, and even lack of running water is a reality facing thousands of households in the US.