Editorial: We each have a role to monitor our drinking water

Most of us take a lot of life's 21st century miracles for granted.

Among other things, we assume that massive jets will stay in the air, that snow-covered streets will get plowed, that furnaces and air conditioners will keep us warm and cool, that the food supply will appear rather conveniently on the table.

We also assume that water will not only be plentiful but that it also will be safe.

Or at least, for the most part, we do.

Then, something like the unconscionable water catastrophe in Flint, Michigan, takes place, and it's a wake-up call that civilization's 21st century systems aren't as perfect as we sometimes think.

It makes us ask, if it can happen in Flint, can it happen here? For a variety of reasons - including the lessons that Flint provides - it's less likely. But that doesn't ensure that our water is lead free.

In fact, Jake Griffin, our assistant managing editor for watchdog reporting, pulled the results of water testing in 172 suburban drinking water systems, he found that measurable levels of lead had been found in nearly 70 percent of those systems - and 8.2 percent of those samples contained lead levels that health experts say is dangerous. with almost four dozen above the federal limits.

It's worthwhile, of course, to keep this in perspective. It's not a cause for panic. But it is a cause for vigilance. While we justifiably trust those responsible for watching over the safety of public drinking water, we also believe that ultimately, every individual is best served by paying attention, by asking common sense questions and by making a point of striving to look out for his or her own well-being - and that of his or her family.

This is true when you buy a house, when you send your kids to school, when you visit a doctor. You don't just take things for granted. You pay attention and you ask common sense questions. The same obligation is true when it comes to the water you and your family drink.

Make a point of paying attention to the lead-quality reports that are circulated for your community, and ask questions if you have them.

If you're unsure about how safe your water is, consider having it tested. The price is affordable and the peace of mind is priceless.

And if you find something wrong, it gives you a chance to do something about it.

Water filters are a good option. They're inexpensive. Choose a model that's certified for lead removal.

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