The ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan is not new to the team at Inframanage.com – read our earlier posts on the Flint Michigan Water Crisis.
It has now reached the point where Flint residents in July 2015 staged a scheduled, one-week demonstration under the title: “CLEAN AFFORDABLE WATER FOR ALL: Detroit to Flint Water Justice Journey.”
Several organizations sponsored the walk and many residents took part, rallying outside City Hall, protesting the in-their-opinion abysmal treatment by the government of Flint residents.
Several of those protesting were extremely angry, carrying containers of brown Flint tap water blaming the local and state authorities for failing to fix the situation.
Global Research reports:
“The water march gained a significant amount of media coverage. Participants submitted a petition to the State Capitol in Lansing demanding clean and affordable water for the people of Michigan.
However, with the capitalist interests of the banks and corporations being dominant, including the firm formerly known as Veolia, which has a contract with the Flint water department, every effort is being made by the ruling class to privatize the system so that large profits can be made from the people of Flint and other municipalities throughout the state. It will need vigilance on the part of the people of Michigan to fight the corporate and financial interests seeking to deny them safe water, guaranteeing access free from the threat of termination and excessive fees.”
Emotive reporting from ‘Global Research’ but it does highlight a perceptions of some of the issues.
As Inframanage.com has previously noted Flint has a range of long-term infrastructure related issues. A quick internet search will bring up a ‘laundry list’ of these issues that includes:
- Dirty water with multiple health scares;
- Water that is in violation of the US Safe Water Act;
- A new river water source – to save money, but now seen as contributing to the water quality issues being experienced;
- Very old infrastructure with multiple annual breaks;
- High average household water and wastewater charges of $150 per month
- A growing percentage of water users who are refusing to pay the charges
Flint is looking for any help it can get to meet these costs, and get on top of these problems – including State and Federal government help. Whether this help will be made available, and in what form – grants or loans remains to be determined.
Having read several articles about the water issues in Flint, one of the underlying core issues is found in the structural population and economic decline in Flint.
Like neighboring Detroit (which is suffering many of the same issues), Flint’s population peaked in 1950 and is now just over half that peak.
Economically good paying manufacturing jobs have slumped to just a 10th of previous numbers over the past 30 years.
From an infrastructure management viewpoint this is the hardest situation to manage.
Population and economic decline in cities and towns does not occur evenly, and the infrastructure built out for the previous peak population remains in place requiring maintenance, refurbishment and replacement.
With declining population and economy the affordability of infrastructure becomes a huge issue, as is being demonstrated in Flint.
Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to this situation just an ongoing series of hard to make decisions.
There is a growing body of academic literature, papers and case studies available around ‘Shrinking Cities/Towns’ that offer guidance and examples of what other urban centers have attempted when faced with similar circumstances.
READ MORE INSIGHTS FROM OUR OTHER FLINT MICHIGAN ARTICLES…
PHOTO CREDIT: Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO)