Erin Brockovich: Here's why water across the US is turning brown, yellow, and other colours

Erin Brockovich, the famous environmental activist and fighter for clean water, explains why people are seeing their drinking water turn different colours. It’s not just Flint, Michigan, that’s suffering: there are more than 200 sites with lead levels higher than Flint. Following is a transcript of the video.

I’ll get pictures from all over the US, and they’re, like, why is my water coming out brown or yellow or orange?

Part of that is because we’ve been adding ammonia to our systems, which makes the water more caustic.

I think that we’ve taken it for granted that when you turn on your water, it’s just there. It’s a huge process. Water is complicated. We have to run it from one point to your tap through miles and miles of distribution systems.

I think we have some 18 million miles of lead pipe. So when you have caustic water running through it, it causes the pipes to corrode. And so all the lead and the iron and the manganese in those pipes leaches out in the distribution system and ends being delivered to your tap.

So those are usually why we see this sudden onset of discoloration of water. Because they have been adding chloramines to the system. And now we have a pretty good idea that the people are being exposed to, certainly, lead — hexavalent chromium, by the way, you know, has colour in water.

[Clip from the movie “Erin Brockovich“]

“Hexavalent chromium can be very harmful.”

“So it kills people?”

“Oh yeah.”

If you remember Flint, when they were releasing the fire hydrants, the colour of the water — that is, iron, lead, and manganese leaching out of the distribution system that’s been delivered to your house that’s causing the coloured water. That would be the main reason. We believe we’re seeing that across the board right now.

And it doesn’t mean that it’s safe to drink.

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