Theme 1Final Post: The Cost of Fresh Water

There are many stories of countries in the world with little or no water; water that is muddy, or contaminated by other means. But many people do not realize there are areas closer to our back yard with the same problems. Flint, Michigan is one of those areas, and their poor water situation goes back further than just the few months the media has been covering it. How Flint found itself in this situation is the result of a few money saving ideas that did not go as planned. Flint had received its water from the city of Detroit for decades; however, in an effort to save the city of Flint money, which was in financial free fall for around a decade. The city council of Flint saw a way of saving six to eight million dollars by decoupling, or disconnecting, from Detroit’s water line, which gets its water from Lake Huron, and wait for a new water pipeline to be built, which will be getting its water from Lake Huron.[1] While Flint waits for the new pipeline to be constructed, the city thought supplying water from a local river, and using equipment that was decades old would be a suitable solution for cutting costs, and getting water for the people of Flint.”Flint had already planned to join a new pipeline, the Karegnondi Water Authority, which would eventually serve mid-Michigan and the state’s thumb. Knowing Flint had plans to leave, Detroit’s water authority said it would stop supplying water to the city. At the time, Flint was under the control of a state-appointed emergency financial manager who, in a cost-saving move, decided that while the city waited for the KWA to come online, Flint would treat its own water for the first time in decades”.[2] My question is what was the monthly water bill for the residents of Flint before decoupling from Detroit’s water line? How much money does the city of Flint generate just from water and sewage bills?

Currently Flint’s residents are paying about 140 dollars a month for water and sewage.[3] This times twelve months come out to 1,680 dollars a year. \[\$140\text{per household per month}\times12\text{months}=\$1,680\text{per year per household}\]. The Michigan Daily newspaper detailed some of the numbers on Flint’s water usage, and demographics. With about 99,000 residents Flint was pumping about 16 million gallons of water a day[4]. Currently the situation in Flint is classified as a state of emergency, and federal aid is capped at five million dollars. But according to a USA Today article from earlier this year “The president authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover 75% of the costs for much-needed water, filters, filter cartridges and other items for residents”[5]. The Budget Director of Michigan John Roberts said that there is 695 million dollars left from the 2014-2015 budget, however to put an exact price on the amount this will cost is too early.[6] So how much does each household in Flint pay in water and sewage bills? If the residence of Flint are paying $1,680 a year per household in water and sewage bills, than just the residents are generating roughly 16.6 million dollars a year, just for water and sewage for the entire city of Flint. \[\$1,680\text{per household}\times 99\text{thousand residents}\approx \$16.6\text{million for water and sewage in Flint}\].

This issue brings up many different social and Human injustices. Why are Flint residences paying $16.6 million for the cities water and sewage, while the infrastructure of the city is crumbling? Around the world there are water crises where people have to walk multiple miles a day to have some type of water for their homes, most of that water is dirty, and filled with contaminates. Not many people would think this could happen in a country that is apart of the Global North like the United States, but here we are, and the kicker to this, the residence of Flint are paying for their deadly water.


[1] Israel, Josh. “Leaked Documents Undermine Official Story Of Flint Water Crisis.” Think Progress. January 25, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2016.

[2] Gringlas, Sam. “In Flint, Lead Contamination Spurs Fight for Clean Water.” The Michigan Daily. December 03, 2015. Accessed January 22, 2016.

[3] Salinger, Tobias. “Flint, Mich., Residents Paying Hundreds of Dollars a Month for Water That’s Unsafe to Drink, Demand State Help for Bills.” Daily News, January 19, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2016.

[4] Gringlas. “In Flint”, The Michigan Daily. December 03, 2015. Accessed January 22, 2016.

[5] Durando, Jessica. “How Water Crisis in Flint, Mich., Became Federal State of Emergency.” USA Today. January 20, 2016. Accessed January 22, 2016.

[6] Egan, Paul, and Kathleen Gray. “Budget Director: Flint Water Crisis Impact Unknown.” Detroit Free Press. January 15, 2016. Accessed January 22, 2016.

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