At a press conference today, in partnership with Citizen Action of New York and Buffalo Water, Open Buffalo (OB) was proud to help bring to the public a new data-mapping tool that will help our community develop a clearer picture of the problem of lead pipes delivering water to city homes. Resident participation will be essential for Buffalo to fully grasp the prevalence of lead water service lines beneath our feet, and to develop a comprehensive and equitable plan to replace them.
Water officials report that roughly 33,000 "unidentified" water service lines, with many of them believed to be made of lead (a material that is known to be a serious health hazard). Buffalo Water and its affiliates use a technology called "corrosion control" to minimize the threat to the public, however the only way to ensure safety from lead is to remove the pipes completely.
This map release was a major milestone for our organization. For the last two years, Open Buffalo has worked on a "Get the Lead Out" campaign, advocating for the accelerated development and public release of this map. We commend Buffalo Water for agreeing to release its new data tool nearly a year ahead of federal mandates. In the months ahead, we will continue to help equip residents with the information and the tools to drive the process of identifying and removing lead service lines. Stay tuned for future OB updates and events around this issue.
At today's event, Franchelle Parker, OB's Founding Executive Director, delivered the following remarks:
Good morning Buffalo!
My name is Franchelle Parker and I’m honored to serve as executive director of Open Buffalo, a community organization bringing together people across our region to tackle issues around race, economics and the environment. We stand shoulder to shoulder with other justice organizations across our region and across the nation. I want to thank WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and our partners at Google for supporting the work of Open Buffalo and community organizations across the country that are working to create more ecologically sustainable communities and clean and safe water for us all. Locally, we have worked in partnership with Heart of the City neighborhoods and Citizen Action of NY to support the release of the lead service line maps.
While the work I do professionally is important, My most important role in life is being a mom of 2 toddlers. As a mom, nothing is more terrifying than trying to protect your children when so many things are out of your control. With so many dangers and obstacles that our children face on a daily basis, certainly water shouldn’t be one of them.
These maps represent power. Knowledge is power!
However, this project will only work, if we the residents of Buffalo play a role. Talk to your neighbors and friends, visit GetWaterWiseBuffalo.org and take their water line survey, help us gain a fuller picture of where lead-based water lines are in our city. Identifying the lines is the only way to remove the danger that they cause.
Open Buffalo will be hosting community learning sessions in the coming year. We want to learn and explore the maps along side parents, caregivers, home owners and renters alike. Again, these are OUR maps! It is a resource that only works if we can give feedbacks and share the knowledge with our people.
I want to thank OJ McFoy, Buffalo Water Board Chair, and his team who worked to make sure we have this knowledge a year before the federal mandate.