Water Contamination Essay

1558 Words 7 Pages
Water contamination was a topic covered throughout the semester in CEE 320. In recent times, the city of Flint, Michigan has faced problems with contaminants in the local water supply. The city of Flint decided to cut ties from Detroit, the former supplier of its fresh water, after it was announced that Detroit was raising their prices (Habicht and Kilty, 2016). Flint created a plan to use water from Lake Huron as its main source of water: however, this plan could not be implemented for another year and a half due to construction. The temporary solution was to take water directly from the Flint River to distribute throughout the city while the lake plan got underway (Sanburn, Gregory, and Sifferlin, 2016). The water from the Flint River was …show more content…
When a corrosive fluid such as the untreated water with high levels of chloride flows through the piping, the lead piping can corrode directly into the freshwater (Sanburn, Gregory, and Sifferlin, 2016). This is a very serious issue because lead exposure causes serious health effects on humans. In Flint, the untreated river water corroded the lead piping directly into the water, leading to high levels of lead exposure for people who ingested the water. Many issues surround drinking water infrastructures, such as cost effective replacement and safe reduction in the ppb concentration of lead in the current distribution systems (Sanburn, Gregory, and Sifferlin, 2016). Safe water quality is very important for environmental engineering because it is responsible for the health and wellbeing of citizens worldwide. Without drinking water treatment processes created by environmental engineers, the water could have harmful substances in it that could be potentially fatal and cause widespread illness or even death.

The main problem at hand was that the high chloride levels in the Flint River water caused lead corrosion of the piping which ultimately got into the water supply going to the Flint residents. There were a few lectures and online lessons throughout the semester dealing with both the issues of source water treatment, as well as corrosion control and drinking water treatment. Throughout the
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In online lesson 9.1 covered this semester, general knowledge of the different sources of freshwater was gained. There are many concerns with the quality of river water to be used in drinking water. Some of these concerns include chemical spills, agricultural runoff, fecal contamination, and seasonable variability in water quality. Chloride levels are higher in Michigan rivers due to the salting of roads in the winter. The Cl- ions from the salt become concentrated in runoff which ultimately ends up in nearby rivers. Lakes and reservoirs are another major sources of fresh water. Concerns surrounding using lakes as a source of freshwater include cyanobacterial blooms, chemical spills, agricultural runoff, and point sources of pollution. Lakes tend to be better sources of freshwater opposed to rivers because the volume of water is generally much greater than a river, meaning pollutants are heavily diluted to smaller concentrations per volume unit of water. This means different treatment methods can be used, which can save money. Had the source selected in Flint been Lake Huron from the beginning, the concentration of chloride ions would have been significantly lower because the concentration is diluted in a greater volume of water. This is also why Detroit’s water had a lower corrosive effect; Detroit-sourced water from a great lake in which the concentration of chloride was much lower

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