By Shea Howell
November 7, 2016
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was swamped this week with objections to its decision to allow Nestle Waters North America to increase its pumping of water from an underground aquifer. Nestle wants to more than double its current rate from 150 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. This would amount to 210,240,000 gallons of water a year being sucked out and transported by truck to their Iron Mountain bottling plant. This bottled water is shipped throughout the midwest in little plastic bottles and sold for enormous profit.
In an article about Nestle’s unprecedented effort to get control of water supplies in Maine, Nathan Wellman concluded, “Nestlé is infamous for taking water from US communities for billions of dollars in profit and then dumping the environmental costs onto the rest of society. Environmental scientist Vandana Shiva has called its practices ‘the most pervasive, most severe, and most invisible dimension of the ecological devastation of the earth.’”
Neoliberalism’s Deadly Experiment
By Josiah Rector
October 21, 2016
“The interconnected water crises in Detroit and Flint demonstrate the massive human costs of destroying the public sector, which antidemocratic emergency manager laws have accelerated. The combination of risky financial deals and privatization is also increasing water rates and shutoffs in other cities. Although population decline and aging infrastructure partially explain water rate increases, neoliberal restructuring is at the heart of the problem. The decimation of the welfare state, which led to the removal of Michigan’s vendor pay program, have also made poor and working-class residents (disproportionately African Americans) more vulnerable to shutoffs.
Addressing this crisis will require a moratorium on residential water shutoffs, and implementing ambitious water affordability programs. The People’s Water Board and other organizations have pushed to get ten water affordability bills before the Michigan house. The People’s Water Board also deserves support.”
The Truth About Flint
By Rasheed Wallace
October 18, 2016
“Every time I go, I’m amazed by the people, but I’m sickened by the lack of help.
Don’t believe the hype that you hear about the water being fixed. That water’s not fixed. This shit ain’t over. Just because it isn’t being talked about doesn’t mean it’s over. Light still needs to be shone on this.
Just think of any other catastrophe that’s occurred in the U.S. There’s always been a government agency that’s come help.
What if this had happened in New York? You mean to tell me that the people of Flint — just because it wasn’t a natural disaster — can’t get no help? That’s ludicrous! The government just approved funding at the beginning of October, nearly two years after we learned that the water was fucked up. What took so long?
And that’s just a long-term fix — money for big-picture projects. It’s $170 million for a multibillion-dollar problem. It does nothing for the people who need clean water right now.
“…too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows…” – MLK Jr.
By Shea Howell
September 25, 2016
This week a parade of preachers swept into the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners. They were protesting drainage charges about to be levied across the city. Preachers called for a “moratorium on drainage charges.” They were “appalled” at the “ungodly” charges. They said they were “called to be here by God” to demand an answer to the question of “why should we have to pay for what comes from God?”
This was a sad display of what has become of our many of our local churches.
The obvious question is simply “Where have you been?” For more than two years, community organizations have been demanding a city-wide conversation to develop policies reflecting the basic understanding that water is a human right. All human beings should have access to safe, affordable water.
As the city zeroes in on graffiti, two Detroit artists face possible prison time
By Aaron Robertson
September 21, 2016
Cosme describes their case as “political theater.”
“There are all these rape kits that go untested in the city of Detroit, yet there’s money to chase graffiti artists,” he says. Cosme’s view of political theater is fundamental to what he calls “the new urbanism movement.” He sees similarities among cities like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington D.C., and Baltimore.
“They wouldn’t invest in Detroit and fix it up until black people lost control of it … Detroit was starved for capital very intentionally.”
By Sharmila L. Murphy
“A Constitutive Commitment to Water,” Boston College Journal of Law & Social Justice 36(2): 159-233.
Abstract: Cass Sunstein coined the term “constitutive commitment” to refer to an idea that falls short of a constitutional right but that has attained near-constitutional significance. This Article argues that access to safe and affordable water for drinking, hygiene, and sanitation has attained this status and that national legislation is needed to realize this new constitutive commitment. Following the termination of water to thousands of households in Detroit, residents and community organizations filed an adversary complaint in Detroit’s bankruptcy proceedings seeking a six-month moratorium on the disconnections. The bankruptcy court dismissed the case, accurately finding that “there is no constitutional or fundamental right either to affordable water service or to an affordable payment plan for account arrearages.” The widespread protests and outrage at the Detroit water shutoffs suggest, however, that people perceive access to water as a right. Although affordable access to water for essential needs falls short of a constitutional right, it could implicate substantive due process, which reflects its near-constitutional status. An analysis of American history, culture, and law demonstrates how access to water for drinking, hygiene, and sanitation could be protected under the right to life. This Article argues that legislation is needed to implement a new constitutive commitment to water and proposes numerous policy options that would not only make moral and economic sense, but also would ensure that all Americans have affordable access to safe water for drinking, hygiene, and sanitation.
See below for full paper:
Download (PDF, 629KB)
This event, held Sunday August 14th at theDamon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, was the celebration of a culmination of a body of work that has been in progress for over a year. We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective (WTP CRC) launched the first of three planned publications (“Mapping the Water Crisis”) to provide factual and visual information concerning the water system, education, and land use.