Whether local water systems are tainted with lead has been of heightened concern since the crisis in Flint, Michigan, erupted as a national story. In an analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, The Associated Press has found that roughly 1,400 water systems across the country reported a sample above the EPA lead limit over the past three years. That includes hundreds of schools and day cares.
The findings are similar to ones reported recently by USA Today. The AP has done its own analysis of the EPA data and is making that available to customers for their own localizations.
A multimedia package that includes stories, photos, an interactive and two detailed spreadsheets will move for use the weekend of April 9-10. See below for a full story digest.
The AP is making available two embargoed data sets for customer localizations:
— The first spreadsheet provides details for the 1,400 water systems that tested above the limit at some point during the past three years.
— The second provides data on all water systems nationwide that have been tested for lead during the past decade.
The link to that data has been shared in advisories emailed to editors and news directors of AP customers.
AP journalists hosted a webinar this week to explain the data and answer questions. A link to the recording of the WebEx session has been emailed to AP customers.
For questions about the project, links to the data or log-in details for Wednesday’s webinar, contact AP State Government Editor Tom Verdin at firstname.lastname@example.org
TAINTED AT THE TAP-LEAD
GALESBURG, Ill. — This railroad town promotes its ties to Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and the poet Carl Sandburg. But Galesburg’s long history also shows in a hidden way: Aging pipes have been leaking lead into the drinking water for decades. Blood tests show cause for concern. One in 20 children under the age of 6 in Knox County had lead levels exceeding the state standard for public health intervention, a rate six times higher than the rest of Illinois, in 2014. Galesburg offers just one example of how the problem of lead-tainted drinking water goes far beyond Flint, Michigan, the former auto manufacturing center where the issue exploded into a public health emergency when the entire water system was declared unsafe. An Associated Press analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data found that nearly 1,400 water systems serving 3.7 million Americans have exceeded the federal lead standard at least once since Jan. 1, 2013. The affected systems are large and small, public and private, and include 278 systems that are owned and operated by schools and day care centers in 42 states. By Ryan J. Foley. UPCOMING: 1,300 words. Photos. Interactive.
— BC-US–Tainted At the Tap-Q&A. A federal rule that went into effect in 1991 is designed to protect the public from unsafe levels of lead in drinking water. Some questions and answers about how it works. UPCOMING: 600 words.
— Data sets showing lead contamination of individual water systems, categorized by state for localizations.
TAINTED AT THE TAP-SCHOOLS
TOLEDO, Ohio — Responding to the crisis in Flint, Michigan, schools across the country are testing for lead in the water flowing from classroom sinks and cafeteria faucets to reassure anxious parents or take action if they are surprised by the results. Just a fraction of schools and day cares nationwide are required to check for lead, a surprise for many, including state and federal lawmakers now calling for wide-ranging testing. Of those schools and day cares operating their own water systems, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data analyzed by The Associated Press show hazardous amounts of lead were double the federal limit in roughly a third of the 278 that violated EPA lead levels over the past three years. In almost all cases, the problems can be traced to aging buildings with lead pipes along with older drinking fountains and water fixtures that have parts made with lead. By John Seewer. UPCOMING: 900 words. Photos.