All Things Water I – The Water We Drink

All Things Water I

In the wake of the Flint water disaster, a moment of silence and a punctuation point, about this all important pillar of life – water.

The Water We Drink or the Case of Continued Water Fluorination

When I first moved to New York, I asked my colleagues about the quality of Manhattan’s water. “Oh, we have the best water in the US,” came the prompt answer. “It comes from Upstate New York,” another proudly chimed in. Yes but my thoughts were not just at the source. What about the thousands of ducts, pipes, the opportunities for leaks and corrosion? But I was the new kid. I dared not question my colleagues and the water did taste good. I got swamped with work and deadlines and so the question died.

And every year since my proud AIA label and NYS license, I have scowered the plethora of courses, lectures, seminars for the much needed continuing education credits required for the upkeep of this status. Grabbed my attention, a flyer from a continuing education provider in the mail about municipal water processes.

I had been reading a lot about fluoride added in the US drinking water since at least the mid twentieth century allegedly for good teeth. It seemed a little over the top that we should ingest daily, large quantities of fluorinated water just to promote healthier teeth. How about adding it in mouthwash instead? But no. On further reading it appeared that there were conspiratorial theories which claimed there was collusion between the big industries producing waste grade fluoride they wanted to dispel easily and cheaply. And hence an agreement with the water processing entities via political interest groups was readily struck. I continued my research in horror. That fluoride has adverse effects appeared to be a well-established medical fact leading to all kinds of conditions from low thyroid function and a multiplicity of other ailments. Any wonder why obesity is a national epidemic? Well, maybe the continuous ingestion of low grade fluoride along with other environmental stressors? I researched the topic further and the literature is vast and reliable. Yet for all that, it was extremely difficult to get a water filtration system that got rid of it. To this day, all the readily available systems claim removing chlorine but actually boast that they maintain fluoride for healthy teeth. I suspect it is much easier to remove chlorine via a carbon filter than it is to remove fluoride. So those people keep it hush mush. But then how is it we have not yet eliminated this unnecessary additive from our everyday drinking water?

In light of my continual interest on the topic, I immediately signed up for the seminar on municipal water filtration and processes. Surely this was the answer. I arrived on time and took my place in the pew. There were mostly engineers. None other architect in the room. The lecturer’s words dribbled on at first then trickled at an inversely time proportionate rate. Heads around were beginning to droop. Most everyone had hit the snooze button. I was still waiting for the section on new and improved water supplies, learning from our mistakes section but it was not forthcoming. Maybe he is leaving the best for last? I listened on while everyone was quietly resting. But the punch line never came. There was not even a mention about fluoride.  I got my credits and went home disappointed.

And with the Flint water disaster, I have to wonder, how many other areas are having similar issues while bureaucracy pontificates, denies and claims more studies are needed before action is warranted while families unknowingly suffer the consequences. Just a few days ago I read south Florida had a radioactive leakage problem that has made its way into the waters. Alarmed, I read on thinking it was a developing story. But no. It apparently has been known and been going on for the last couple of years with no action from those paid to monitor and effectively respond. Another story broke about water in Newark. I stopped reading and went straight to the Whole Foods where I ordered home delivery for x gallons of bottled water.

How to cut the cost of healthcare? How about investing in refurbishing our decaying infrastructure?

Oh, but that takes time. We politicians want instant credit.