Water Crisis In Native American Communities

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If you haven't been living under a rock lately then you are familiar with the recent water crisis in Flint rock Michigan. But unfortunately there are other water crisis that are not getting the proper attention they deserve.  


What most people may not realize is many Native American communities have compromised water supplies. Tainted water supplies are not limited to Flint Michigan this is not a new issue. One such incident the federal government was aware of but did not intervene properly was Sebring, OH water crisis. Officials are calling it the next Flint with its water crisis. Elevated levels of lead and copper were found within the towns water supply and the water treatment operator was slow to intervene.  


To put the water problem in perspective the acceptable level of lead in water is 15 parts per billion. In Sebring, OH the lead in the water supply was 21 parts per billion. For those unfamiliar with the hazardous side effects of lead it has a host of ill effects. Lead poisoning can cause developmental delay, learning problems, and a severe decline in mental functioning.


For the western U.S tribes water contamination has unfortunately become a way of life. The Navajo Native American communities have been dealing with contaminated drinking water since the early 1950's. This was largely due to uranium mining and coal mining. To add to the issue there are currently over 15,000 toxic abandoned uranium mines throughout the US. A large portion of these mines are on federal and tribal lands as well. A Navajo community has been twice exposed to the legally allowable limit of uranium in their tap water.  


Conveniently enough there is no law requiring any sort of comprehensive cleanup of abandoned uranium sites. To make matters worse politicians routinely make deals with large mining corporations that will compromise Native American water supplies. Senator John McCain signed a defense bill that gave sacred Apache land to a mining company. There copper mining procedures would go on to poison the surrounding water supplies. 


While Government officials have been forced to act in the Flint, Michigan situation there has been a grotesque disregard for Native American water supplies. As a result, the contamination of water in Native American water supplies continues on with little opposition.