Introduction: Re-politicizing water allocation

Thomas A Perreault, Rutgerd Boelens, Jeroen Vos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Flint Who poisoned Flint? This question, easy to ask but harder to answer, draws attention to the complex of political and economic institutions, processes, social relations and hydraulic infrastructures involved in urban water governance. Flint, Michigan, a city of 100,000 people northwest of Detroit, is a city in decline. Like other cities and towns in the US “rust belt,” Flint’s landscape is marked by abandoned, decaying factories, brownfields (urban spaces too polluted for redevelopment) and crumbling infrastructure. Flint was the founding place of General Motors, which still operates a plant there. Industry downsizing sacked thousands of workers in the 1980s, driving the city’s poverty rate up sharply. De-industrialization and population loss have left the city with a diminished tax base, which barely covers operating costs for basic city services, much less for environmental cleanup and infrastructure upgrades. Some 40 percent of the city’s population lives below the federal poverty line, and city residents, some 52 percent of whom are African-American, had experienced more than their share of problems when, in 2014, they were confronted with another: poisoned water. Prior to that year, Flint received its drinking water from Detroit’s water system, which in turn drew from Lake Huron, part of North America’s Great Lakes system. Flint had plans to connect to a new water pipeline, to be completed in 2016 or 2017, which would provide Lake Huron water directly, at lower cost. As a further cost-saving measure, in April 2014, Flint’s governor-appointed Emergency Manager decided that the city should no longer draw water from Detroit’s system, and should instead begin drawing water from the Flint River, which flows through the city. Like many waterways in and around rust belt cities, the Flint River is acutely contaminated by decades of industrial waste and lax regulation, as well as municipal waste seepage from aging sewer systems (cf. Perreault et al., 2012). As early as August 2014, drinking water tests showed elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Residents were instructed to boil water and the city began treating the water system with chlorine. Between June 2014 and November 2015, Flint also experienced an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease, which eventually claimed the lives of ten people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWater Justice
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages34-42
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781316831847
ISBN (Print)9781107179080
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Fingerprint

flint
water
rust disease
infrastructure
poverty
drinking water
city
allocation
cost
deindustrialization
coliform bacterium
African American
lake
redevelopment
fecal coliform
cleanup
industrial waste
river flow
lake water
seepage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Perreault, T. A., Boelens, R., & Vos, J. (2018). Introduction: Re-politicizing water allocation. In Water Justice (pp. 34-42). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316831847.002

Introduction : Re-politicizing water allocation. / Perreault, Thomas A; Boelens, Rutgerd; Vos, Jeroen.

Water Justice. Cambridge University Press, 2018. p. 34-42.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Perreault, TA, Boelens, R & Vos, J 2018, Introduction: Re-politicizing water allocation. in Water Justice. Cambridge University Press, pp. 34-42. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316831847.002
Perreault TA, Boelens R, Vos J. Introduction: Re-politicizing water allocation. In Water Justice. Cambridge University Press. 2018. p. 34-42 https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316831847.002
Perreault, Thomas A ; Boelens, Rutgerd ; Vos, Jeroen. / Introduction : Re-politicizing water allocation. Water Justice. Cambridge University Press, 2018. pp. 34-42
@inbook{1dd0c450dcac4775921d5bdb7a0a8582,
title = "Introduction: Re-politicizing water allocation",
abstract = "Flint Who poisoned Flint? This question, easy to ask but harder to answer, draws attention to the complex of political and economic institutions, processes, social relations and hydraulic infrastructures involved in urban water governance. Flint, Michigan, a city of 100,000 people northwest of Detroit, is a city in decline. Like other cities and towns in the US “rust belt,” Flint’s landscape is marked by abandoned, decaying factories, brownfields (urban spaces too polluted for redevelopment) and crumbling infrastructure. Flint was the founding place of General Motors, which still operates a plant there. Industry downsizing sacked thousands of workers in the 1980s, driving the city’s poverty rate up sharply. De-industrialization and population loss have left the city with a diminished tax base, which barely covers operating costs for basic city services, much less for environmental cleanup and infrastructure upgrades. Some 40 percent of the city’s population lives below the federal poverty line, and city residents, some 52 percent of whom are African-American, had experienced more than their share of problems when, in 2014, they were confronted with another: poisoned water. Prior to that year, Flint received its drinking water from Detroit’s water system, which in turn drew from Lake Huron, part of North America’s Great Lakes system. Flint had plans to connect to a new water pipeline, to be completed in 2016 or 2017, which would provide Lake Huron water directly, at lower cost. As a further cost-saving measure, in April 2014, Flint’s governor-appointed Emergency Manager decided that the city should no longer draw water from Detroit’s system, and should instead begin drawing water from the Flint River, which flows through the city. Like many waterways in and around rust belt cities, the Flint River is acutely contaminated by decades of industrial waste and lax regulation, as well as municipal waste seepage from aging sewer systems (cf. Perreault et al., 2012). As early as August 2014, drinking water tests showed elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Residents were instructed to boil water and the city began treating the water system with chlorine. Between June 2014 and November 2015, Flint also experienced an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease, which eventually claimed the lives of ten people.",
author = "Perreault, {Thomas A} and Rutgerd Boelens and Jeroen Vos",
year = "2018",
month = "1",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1017/9781316831847.002",
language = "English (US)",
isbn = "9781107179080",
pages = "34--42",
booktitle = "Water Justice",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
address = "United Kingdom",

}

TY - CHAP

T1 - Introduction

T2 - Re-politicizing water allocation

AU - Perreault, Thomas A

AU - Boelens, Rutgerd

AU - Vos, Jeroen

PY - 2018/1/1

Y1 - 2018/1/1

N2 - Flint Who poisoned Flint? This question, easy to ask but harder to answer, draws attention to the complex of political and economic institutions, processes, social relations and hydraulic infrastructures involved in urban water governance. Flint, Michigan, a city of 100,000 people northwest of Detroit, is a city in decline. Like other cities and towns in the US “rust belt,” Flint’s landscape is marked by abandoned, decaying factories, brownfields (urban spaces too polluted for redevelopment) and crumbling infrastructure. Flint was the founding place of General Motors, which still operates a plant there. Industry downsizing sacked thousands of workers in the 1980s, driving the city’s poverty rate up sharply. De-industrialization and population loss have left the city with a diminished tax base, which barely covers operating costs for basic city services, much less for environmental cleanup and infrastructure upgrades. Some 40 percent of the city’s population lives below the federal poverty line, and city residents, some 52 percent of whom are African-American, had experienced more than their share of problems when, in 2014, they were confronted with another: poisoned water. Prior to that year, Flint received its drinking water from Detroit’s water system, which in turn drew from Lake Huron, part of North America’s Great Lakes system. Flint had plans to connect to a new water pipeline, to be completed in 2016 or 2017, which would provide Lake Huron water directly, at lower cost. As a further cost-saving measure, in April 2014, Flint’s governor-appointed Emergency Manager decided that the city should no longer draw water from Detroit’s system, and should instead begin drawing water from the Flint River, which flows through the city. Like many waterways in and around rust belt cities, the Flint River is acutely contaminated by decades of industrial waste and lax regulation, as well as municipal waste seepage from aging sewer systems (cf. Perreault et al., 2012). As early as August 2014, drinking water tests showed elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Residents were instructed to boil water and the city began treating the water system with chlorine. Between June 2014 and November 2015, Flint also experienced an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease, which eventually claimed the lives of ten people.

AB - Flint Who poisoned Flint? This question, easy to ask but harder to answer, draws attention to the complex of political and economic institutions, processes, social relations and hydraulic infrastructures involved in urban water governance. Flint, Michigan, a city of 100,000 people northwest of Detroit, is a city in decline. Like other cities and towns in the US “rust belt,” Flint’s landscape is marked by abandoned, decaying factories, brownfields (urban spaces too polluted for redevelopment) and crumbling infrastructure. Flint was the founding place of General Motors, which still operates a plant there. Industry downsizing sacked thousands of workers in the 1980s, driving the city’s poverty rate up sharply. De-industrialization and population loss have left the city with a diminished tax base, which barely covers operating costs for basic city services, much less for environmental cleanup and infrastructure upgrades. Some 40 percent of the city’s population lives below the federal poverty line, and city residents, some 52 percent of whom are African-American, had experienced more than their share of problems when, in 2014, they were confronted with another: poisoned water. Prior to that year, Flint received its drinking water from Detroit’s water system, which in turn drew from Lake Huron, part of North America’s Great Lakes system. Flint had plans to connect to a new water pipeline, to be completed in 2016 or 2017, which would provide Lake Huron water directly, at lower cost. As a further cost-saving measure, in April 2014, Flint’s governor-appointed Emergency Manager decided that the city should no longer draw water from Detroit’s system, and should instead begin drawing water from the Flint River, which flows through the city. Like many waterways in and around rust belt cities, the Flint River is acutely contaminated by decades of industrial waste and lax regulation, as well as municipal waste seepage from aging sewer systems (cf. Perreault et al., 2012). As early as August 2014, drinking water tests showed elevated levels of fecal coliform bacteria. Residents were instructed to boil water and the city began treating the water system with chlorine. Between June 2014 and November 2015, Flint also experienced an outbreak of legionnaires’ disease, which eventually claimed the lives of ten people.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85048192321&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85048192321&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/9781316831847.002

DO - 10.1017/9781316831847.002

M3 - Chapter

AN - SCOPUS:85048192321

SN - 9781107179080

SP - 34

EP - 42

BT - Water Justice

PB - Cambridge University Press

ER -