Safe drinking water focus of ESPE series

Publication Date

The Environmental Science, Policy and Engineering (ESPE) Winter Seminar Series kicks off Wednesday, Jan. 11, with the talk “Lies in the Water: Neoliberal Racism and the Tragedy of Flint in Michigan’s Water Wars,” at 7 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.

The series, now in its 20th year, is a focal point of the ESPE program's curriculum.

The theme of this year’s interdisciplinary series is “Get the Lead Out: Safe Drinking Water and Environmental Justice.” The goal is to present four different viewpoints on these interrelated topics.

Lead contamination is widespread, with millions of Americans getting water from utilities that do not meet federal safe drinking water standards.

The issue gained national attention in the last couple of years when lead seepage into the drinking water in Flint, Mich., caused a massive public health crisis and prompted President Obama to declare a federal state of emergency there.
All talks in the series are on Wednesdays at 7p.m. in the Nott Memorial. The talks are free and open to the public.

The speakers:

Jan. 11: Michael Mascarenhas, associate professor in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Mascarenhas is a sociologist whose research examines the political, social and environmental tensions and controversies surrounding recent transnational changes in the governance of water regimes.

Feb. 1: E. Yvonne Lewis, executive director of Faith Access to Community Economic Development (FACED), which provides services to meet the comprehensive health needs –physical, mental and spiritual – of low-income residents of the city of Flint and Genesee County, Mich.

Feb. 8: Kelsey Pieper, a U.S. Department of Agriculture NIFA Postdoctoral Fellow at Virginia Tech. Her work focuses on investigating patterns of lead exposure in unregulated well water and evaluating the effectiveness of common remediation practices. Pieper has been a core member of the Flint Water Study Team at Virginia Tech, conducting in-depth corrosion assessments and analyzing data collected during the citizen-led sampling campaigns.

Feb. 22: Robert A. Bilott, a partner in Taft’s Environmental, Litigation, and Product Liability and Personal Injury practice groups in Cincinnati, Ohio. Bilott handles environmental issues of regulatory compliance, permitting and corporate/real estate transactions. He has been directly involved in investigations of contaminated water in and around Hoosick Falls, N.Y.