FLINT, Mich.— Flint resident LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four who played a key role in exposing the lead contamination of the city’s water, asked for — and got — a commitment by Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to eliminate lead water lines across the country if they become president. Walters was among a number of local residents called on to question the candidates at Sunday night’s debate on CNN.
After city officials dismissed Walters’ concerns about the safety of her family’s water, tests by Virginia Tech researchers revealed that the water at Walters’ home contained twice the level of lead the EPA defines as toxic waste. She asked the two Democratic candidates if they would “make a personal promise to me right now that, as president, in your first 100 days in office, you will make it a requirement that all public water systems must remove all lead service lines throughout the entire United States.”
Moderator Anderson Cooper noted that there are 10 million lead service pipes currently delivering water to people throughout the country.
Sanders replied that, if elected president, he would appoint an EPA director who will “make sure that every water system in the United States of America is tested, and that the people of those communities know the quality of the water that they are drinking, and that we are gonna have a plan to rebuild water systems in this country that are unsafe for drinking.”
Clinton agreed but added that as president she would commit to getting rid of lead — which is considered toxic at any level — not only in water systems but lead paint and contaminated soil as well.
“We will commit within five years to remove lead from everywhere,” Clinton said. “Water, soil and paint, we’re going to get rid of it.”
(Cover tile photo: Jim Young/Reuters)