Chicago stel 'lekker' ingemaakte water-handelsmerk bekend - moet net nie die stad se giftige waterkrisis noem nie

Lori Lightfoot se bekendstelling van Chicago se eie handelsmerk ingemaakte water onder die naam "Chicagwa" het dalk meer golwe geskep as wat sy verwag het.

Op Dinsdag, the city’s mayor unveiled the artfully designed cans of Chicago tap water to celebrate their water source, Lake Michigan, in honor of National Drinking Water Week. But the city has been identified as having more potentially toxic lead pipes delivering that water to homes than anywhere else in the US – a fact that concerned locals are now reminding people about.

"Geen, this water isn’t from an exotic island around Fiji, or from some fancy glacier out in Scandinavia. It’s from Chicago,” said the tongue-in-cheek marketing website for the new limited-edition cans, promoting the “clean, delicious drinking water” the city gets by being next to “the greatest of all Great Lakes”.

“So whether you’re drinking Chicagwa from a can or any faucet or garden hose in the Chicago metropolitan area, geniet,” it said.

But the launch has been met with criticism from environmentalists and local activists, who said the city hasn’t done enough to help the thousands of residents who are still drinking their lake water through lead pipes.

“We need less Chicagwa and more political will to get the lead out of our drinking water,” wrote Gina Ramirez of the Chicago office of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in a blogpost, noting that an estimated 400,000 homes in Chicago still have lead lines delivering water from the street. “So many folks in my community buy bottled water because they don’t trust their taps. Let’s do better and actually start addressing this public health issue by replacing lead lines.”

Lead is a dangerous toxin known to cause brain damage in children and numerous health effects in adults. The CDC has said there is “no safe level” of lead in children’s blood. And Joe Biden has raised $15bn to replace some of the lead pipes in US cities..

A succession of Chicago mayoral administrations have been criticized for not getting serious enough about the lead water service line problem – which is expected to take up to $9bn and 50 years to fix. But Lightfoot campaigned on the issue and promised in 2021, “we’re not kicking the can down the road any more”.

Progress has been glacial, egter. Despite promising to fix 600 lead service lines in 2021, enigste 20 have been replaced so far, according to an investigation by CBS Chicago.

In a press conference, the mayor said the cans of “Chicagwa” water, featuring colorful designs from local artists, will be given away for free at restaurants and events around the city over the next few months. She touted several changes her administration has made to the water system, including stopping water shutoffs for residents who can’t pay, but did not mention the lead problem.

“What we’ve done in investments that we’ve made is really step up our ability to deliver clean, safe drinking water to Chicagoans and our regional partners for decades to come," sy het gese.

But the announcement was met on Twitter and elsewhere with a wave of what Eater Chicago described as classic Chicagoan snark.

“The cans are lead-lined for authenticity,” quipped traffic reporter Mike Pries.

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