The worst sense of security is a false one. It’s hard for people to wrap their heads around the idea that those in charge – federal, state and local agencies – might be cheating the system. But, all too often, that is exactly what happens.
The Guardian has found that 33 cities east of the Mississippi river used water testing methods that the EPA has said underestimate how much lead is present. And in two states, water departments were encouraged to test water early – so that if they received bad results they could re-sample.
Transparency is sorely lacking in the system. Information in municipal water reports often gets changed or redacted because people have an “oh shit” moment. Water utility managers fear they might lose their job if levels come back too high. Sometimes they are motivated by greed and ineptitude. Other times, their actions are simply the result of working for agencies that are over-burdened and under-staffed.