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Lessons from Flint and the Price of Water Privatization


Lessons from Flint and the Price of Water Privatization

Mary Grant, Jo Miles

As new information comes out every day about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the state of our country’s water feels dire. Flint children will suffer the lifelong consequences of lead poisoning after the state took over the city’s water system and switched the city’s water source from the safe Detroit water system to the polluted Flint River all in the name of cutting costs.


Flint, where the decades of vandalizing the environment comes home to roost.
You can pay me now or you can pay me latter.


A liquid asset we can't afford to flush


Flint's history as a major industrial center stretches back into the mid-1800's. By 1880 it was a leading manufacturing center for high quality horse-drawn carriages. The change over to automobiles was a logical step, and Fischer Body led the way.

Flint was a major hub for the rights of workers to unionize in the 1930's and by 1970 the high paying manufacturing jobs set the example for the upwardly mobile middle class.

In 1985 things took a big left hand turn. General Motors began divesting itself of its Flint workforce that at the time numbered 80,000. In this, Flint served as an example again for America. This time, it was the poster child of what lay in store for communities all across America as manufacturers shipped their manufacturing jobs overseas and left the workers behind with little hope for the future.

Now, Flint is giving another warning to America. As pointed out in this article, the trend and end result when government divests itself of serving the People in favor of privatization is glaringly evident. In Flint's case, the State's CEO governor took control of governing the community of Flint, ran it further into the ground, and wound up poisoning the population - because it failed to require those in charge of city services to know what they were doing. Sheer incompetence.

Public health and life sustaining services and commodities absolutely require government regulation. There's no way to get around that. Flint is your example, America. What are you going to do? Government officials who favor privatization need to be turned out of office as quickly as possible to prevent disasters like those that have befallen Flint, Michigan.


I'm curious, what happened in respect to Akron about water? I live in Akron and I never heard anything about this. Akron, Ohio, that is.


My dad was from Akron. Flint was my hometown until after I served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army.

I'm not sure what you're asking about in reference to Akron?

Flint is not the only community with lead problems. Some of that is lead paint; most of the rest is lead in the water.

What makes Flint stick out is the fact that an incompetent republican appointed administrator overruled warnings about the need to treat the water from the Flint River before pumping it into the municipal water distribution system. The water was so corrosive it scoured the layers of calcium carbonate that naturally builds up on the inside surfaces of pipes and prevents the water from coming into contact with the lead of the pipes and the lead solder used to join pipes with connections.

This didn't happen to a random house here and there, the pipes were damaged throughout the entire City, including some 30,000 houses, additional apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, business buildings and restaurants. Those are the service lines to individual buildings. I don't hear any talk about the status of the water mains those service lines are connected to.

So, Akron?