Climate change and the lead exposure crisis in Flint, Michigan have prompted investment in water resources, an expert says.

Jeremy Orr, adjunct professor of law in the Michigan State University College of Law with expertise in water sustainability and issues of access and affordability, explains how these events have spurred government and communities to invest in efforts to sustain water resources and make them accessible to everyone:

Why is water sustainability a growing concern?
We’ve seen this issue of an oncoming water crisis for a while now. Climate change is exacerbating the issue. Out west, water is drying up and being contaminated, and we have issues of access and affordability in other regions where the cost of water has tripled in the past 10 years. We have seen issues of not only lead contamination, but now we’re also looking at things like PFAS contamination.

Why is it such a challenge to sustain clean, affordable water?
Part of what has made it difficult to fix issues of water infrastructure and get pipes out of the ground is the fact that Michigan has had restrictions on how tax dollars can be spent to fix these issues in places like Flint. We’ve seen the lack of ability to replace things like lead infrastructure in a timely manner.

What solutions are being implemented to resolve this issue?
State and local governments in Michigan are beginning to implement affordability programs and rate structures that make sure communities have continual access to water at lower rates.

If affordable water means that government must continue to create some sort of subsidy programs or we create a tier of different rates for lower-income residents to make sure that they have access to water, that needs to happen. We’ve been seeing those ideas not only kicked around but also being implemented in communities around the country to make sure that residents do have access.

Read the full article about lead exposure and climate change in Flint by Liz Goodfellow at Futurity.