When you think of tainted water in the United States, you probably think of Flint, Michigan. And for good reason. Flint’s water crisis has been going on since 2014, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to come to an end any time soon.
But what if I told you that Ohio could soon face a water crisis like the one in Flint?
According to this map compiled by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio has had 67 drinking water advisories over the past five years. Some of these advisories are just that — advisories.
In Evansport, their advisory states “You do not need to use an alternative (e.g. bottled) water supply. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.” Some, like the Hartville church, say “Boil the water before using or use bottled water.”
But in the middle of the map, there’s a singular red dot at Holmes Cheese Co. in the middle of Millersburg, Ohio. Their advisory simply states “Do not drink the water.”
Ohio is no stranger to problems with drinking water. In August 2014 an algal toxin appeared in Lake Erie, resulting in Toledo residents not being allowed to drink tap water for three days.
This process shined some light on Toledo’s questionable water filtration system, a system that was changed after the scare. But not all water in Ohio comes from the Lake. Many places in the middle of Ohio, especially in amish country, get their water from wells or rivers, which can mean that if their water supply is tainted, their whole way of life could change.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Ohio ranked 7th in the nation in 2015 in drinking water violations. Drinking water is something we tend to take for granted, until it’s gone or unsanitary. Part of what makes Ohio such a unique state is the amount of water it has. From Lake Erie and the Grand Lake to the Ohio river and Muskingum river, it’s a state with a surplus of fresh water. But what happens if that water gets contaminated, whether that be in the form of algae, or something caused by us like lead? Do we have safeguards in place? Are we prepared?
This past February my apartment complex shut down water for a day to fix a burst pipe. I prepared for the shutoff, but still found myself counting my blessings when the water turned back on.
I can’t imagine having to go through that without warning. I hope Ohio residents never have to.