An American Reset ― Safe Water & a Workable Model of Federalism
Cara Cunningham Warren
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law; University of Toronto Faculty of Law
Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, December 2016, Forthcoming
In 2015, at least 3.9 million Americans were exposed to lead in their drinking water at legally unacceptable levels. An additional 18 million Americans are at risk because their water systems are not in compliance with federal rules designed to detect the presence and to ameliorate the impact of lead contamination. What’s more, in 82% of the cases where the violation related to a health standard, no formal state or federal enforcement action was taken.
These startling statistics indicate that the Flint Water Crisis is not an isolated event. In fact, it is a case study that might explain these statistics. For those who care to see, Flint Water reveals a fault line within our cooperative federalism model: We are relying on an increasingly inappropriate power structure to guarantee the safety of our water supply, one that places the heaviest burden on the least powerful actor — the water supplier. This article proposes a ‘reset’ of the model in order to achieve safe water and government accountability.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 74
Keywords: Federalism, Flint Water, Safe Drinking Water Act
Date posted: September 6, 2016 ; Last revised: November 15, 2016