Clean water running out of a faucet is something that we often take for granted. For people living in Flint, Michigan, turning on the tap has been a nightmare for more than two years.
As the city continues to search for answers to fix the crisis which has seen dangerous levels of lead cripple its water supply, help has been flowing in from all over the country. ZeroWater, a Bensalem-based company that sells specialized water filters, has partnered with the city to help residents in desperate need of clean drinking water.
“Until recently, we kind of thought that – like a lot of people – we thought this issue was gonna go away with the switch back to Detroit’s water system, and it didn’t obviously,” Doug Kellum, ZeroWater’s CEO said. “It got worse,”
ZeroWater is currently holding a #FiltersForFlint donation drive in conjunction with the United Way of Genesee County. The company has set up a website for people to donate filters to the United Way and for every one donated, the company matches it.
ZeroWater – which says that they have the only filter pitchers that are certified by the National Science Foundation to reduce lead – began working with Flint to help with their water issues last fall, when they donated coolers to the city’s schools.
In the 10 days since the fundraiser started, ZeroWater has donated nearly $50,000 worth of filters from donors as far away as Texas, California, and Hawaii.
Jamie Gaskin, the CEO of the United Way of Genesee County, says that he has been overwhelmed with the response and have immediately gotten the filters out to residents.
“They go right into the warehouse and distribution system that’s serving the whole population, so we’re not picking and choosing necessarily people to be winners and losers,” he added, noting that it has been a non-stop job helping people get the filters and pitchers. “We’re putting them right into the greater system.”
Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the lead level in some parts of Flint exceeded 150 parts per billion, the level for which water filters are graded, and said that most water filters are unable to properly at those levels.
Kellum disputes these findings, saying that there have been no tests have been done by the NSF of filters at those high levels.
“But certainly the filters still remove lead, there’s just some uncertainty to how far they’ll go,” he said. “So, we still say replace the filters when they’re recommended to be replaced, do not over use them and chances are you’ll be just fine.”
The filters have been a big help to the United Way, but Kellum says they aren’t a final solution. Gaskin knows that this is still just the beginning of a long recovery in Flint
“You know at a time where we sometimes feel alone and isolated, when we get this kind of support, we certainly share it with the broader team and say ‘Hey, people are out there and they care.’ Let’s get focused on what the end of this looks like and sort of put our heads down and get through it.”