The Stream, July 27: Detroit Water Shutoffs Creating Public Health Crisis, Expert Panel Says

The Global Rundown

Medical experts warn that water shutoffs in Detroit are creating a public health crisis. In neighboring Flint, Michigan, the state is preparing to close more than half of the free water distribution points as the city’s lead levels remain below federal safety standards. The drought in Somalia may deepen until October, and it has already displaced more than 700,000 people. Dry weather is helping fuel forest fires that forced thousands of people to evacuate coastal areas in France. In India’s Gujarat state, monsoon floods have killed dozens of people. Many international airports in the United Kingdom do not provide free drinking water fountains past security, a survey found.

“The folks that are suffering from these water shutoffs aren’t just staying in their houses. They’re going out shopping in grocery stores, taking care of kids, delivering food to you at lunch time, cleaning the office buildings, they’re cleaning the hotels, they’re cleaning homes, they are in the community living their lives. And that puts the entire community at risk. So the water shutoffs are a public health crisis of enormous dimensions.” –Dr. Wendy Johnson, director of La Familia Medical Center in New Mexico, speaking as part of a panel of experts that raised concerns Wednesday about the health effects of water shutoffs in Detroit. The panel was convened after a preliminary study by researchers at the Henry Ford Global Health Initiative found a correlation between patients with water-related illnesses and areas of the city where water shutoffs have occurred. (Detroit Free Press)

In context: In Detroit, the poorest are losing access to water.

By The Numbers

25,000 people Number displaced over the past three weeks due to monsoon flooding in India’s Gujarat state. The floods have killed 75 people in the state and threaten crops across the region. Reuters

5 of 9 water distribution sites will be closed in Flint, Michigan after state officials found that levels of lead in the city’s water supply remain within federal safety standards. Associated Press

In context: Treating drinking water at the faucet is rarely a utility’s contamination solution.

Science, Studies, And Reports

Erratic rainfall in Somalia is expected to cut cereal production to between 50 and 60 percent of average this season, and drought conditions are expected to deepen until October, according to the latest humanitarian report released by the United Nations. The report found that 766,000 people have been displaced by the drought since last November. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

A consumer information survey of 30 international airports in the United Kingdom found that 60 percent do not have free water fountains available for passengers after they go through security checkpoints. The problem is compounded by practices that require passengers to dispose of filled water bottles before entering security. Guardian

On The Radar

Dry weather and wind continue to fuel forest fires in France, Italy, and Portugal. At least 12,000 people have been evacuated this week from the Cote d’Azur coast in France, where fires are threatening homes and affecting tourism in the region. Associated Press