Other voices: Let feds solve water dilemma

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2016

Don’t drink the water. It’s dangerous. No, wait, go ahead. Drink it. It’s safe. It’s enough to drive a consumer nuts — and create a fair bit of mistrust in the government regulators we depend on to protect us from threats like lead or carcinogens in our water.

The state’s public health and environmental regulators have recently reversed advice to residents in Lee County, where coal ash will soon be stored, and to other residents who live near Duke Energy coal-ash impoundments. In the past, residents were told that they shouldn’t drink the water from their wells because of harmful heavy metals or other compounds found in them.

Since then, the state’s public-health director says, the state has gotten additional information about the quality of the water and decided that it’s safe. A lot of residents aren’t so sure. And Duke, which has been distributing bottled water to many of them, will continue to do so.

There’s a better answer: The state needs to tap some of its own emergency funding, and seek help from Washington, and extend public water mains to the properties with wells that show contamination. Whipsawing people with drink-don’t-drink advisories isn’t at all reassuring or helpful.

— Fayetteville Observer

Remove VA hurdles

The Department of Veterans Affairs is working hard to bring adequate health care to the country’s millions of veterans.

But as Vietnam-era veterans age and need more care, and growing numbers of veterans from our longest-ever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seek help, it’s doubtful that the VA alone will ever be able to serve them all well and promptly.

That’s why Congress passed the Veterans Choice Act two years ago, giving many veterans the option of seeking care through hometown health care providers.

Now Sen. Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican, has filed the Veterans Choice Improvement Act, which will extend those benefits and eliminate many hurdles — including slow payments to providers — that prevent the act from succeeding.

Good.

North Carolina’s other senator, Thom Tillis, is a co-sponsor of the bill. Both say they’ve heard from veterans who continue to be blocked from the care that’s been promised to them. Burr’s bill would also make the Veterans Choice program permanent. That’s the right move to make. Providing the care is more important than choosing a bureaucracy to do the work.

— Fayetteville Observer

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