For months now Native American and First Nation tribes from Canada have been protesting the $3.8 billion pipeline that would carry Bakken crude oil across four states, a portion of which has raised environmental and safety concerns from several federal agencies. Last week the protest turned violent at the Standing Rock site when the company …
Sep 07 2016
Jun 25 2014
Most Americans take water for granted. We get up in the morning shower, brush teeth, flush the toilet, run water to drink, clean and on and on. What would you do if you couldn’t do those things? How would it effect you daily life? You ability to work? Support yourself and your family? How would it effect you health?
Those questions are all being faces right now by hundreds of thousands men, women and children, not in some third world country, but Detroit, Michigan.
In March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is resuming efforts to shut off water service to thousands of delinquent customers.
Crews will be targeting those who have received a shutoff notice and whose bills are more than two months late. Customers with late bills can avoid a shutoff by entering into a payment plan. Typically, it takes a payment of 30% to 50% of the amount owed to start such a plan. [..]
There are 323,900 DWSD accounts in Detroit. Of those, 150,806 are delinquent. Some of those delinquencies are low-income customers who are struggling to keep their utilities on, said some who work in providing assistance to those in need.
But agencies aiding the mostly low income families currently without water are short on cash
“The need is huge,” said Mia Cupp, director of development and communications for the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. “There are families that have gone months and months without water.”
The group is among a handful of local agencies that provide assistance to those who need help with their water bills. The Water Access Volunteer Effort, a Detroit-based nonprofit, is another. [..]
The organization has very limited resources. Cupp said the group raised about $148,000 during a charity walk; that money could go to helping people pay water bills. [..]
Mayor Mike Duggan’s spokesman John Roach referred to the Water and Sewerage Department questions about how the city handles community outreach to inform residents about programs to help with water bills. Detroit’s Human Services Department used to perform outreach but no longer does, Latimer said. So the water department is finalizing an agreement with The Heat And Warmth Fund, or THAW, to do so, he said. THAW provides low-income Michigan residents with emergency energy assistance.
Jill Brunett, vice president for marketing and communication for THAW, confirmed that the group is in talks with the water department. She said the extreme weather this winter increased heating bills, putting a strain on finances.
Al Jazeera reported that the average Detroit water bill is nearly double the national average of $40 per month (pdf). Tho add insult to injury, DWSD said it would again raise rates, this time by 8.7 percent.
A coalition of groups including the Detroit People’s Water Board, Food and Water Watch, Blue Planet Project and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization have appealed to the United Nations for assistance (pdf)
“We are asking the UN special rapporteur to make clear to the U.S. government that it has violated the human right to water,” said Maude Barlow, the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and a key member of the coalition that put the report together. In addition to creating international pressure to stop the Detroit shutoffs, Barlow said, the UN’s intervention could lead to formal consequences for the United States. “If the US government does not respond appropriately this will also impact their Universal Periodic Review,” she said, “when they stand before the Human Rights Council to have their [human rights] record evaluated.”
Two of those activists, Maureen Taylor, state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Meera Karunananthan, international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project, spoke with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman about Detroit’s water crisis.
Trancript can be read here
The US may be the wealthiest country in the world but it is rapidly turning it’s cities into third world slums, endangering thousands of lives.
Sep 22 2013
These were the headlines in few major news outlets around the US this past week:
Deadly brain amoeba infects US tap water for the first time
by Maggie Fox NBC News
A deadly brain amoeba that’s killed two boys this year has been found in a U.S. drinking water supply system for the first time, officials said Monday — in a New Orleans-area system.
The Naegleria fowleri parasite killed a 4-year-old Mississippi boy who likely got it playing on a back yard Slip ‘N Slide, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say. Tests show it’s present throughout the water supply system in St. Bernard Parish, directly southeast of New Orleans.
St. Bernard water system tests positive for rare brain-eating amoeba, CDC confirms
by Benjamin Alexander-Bloch, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
The St. Bernard Parish water system has tested positive for a rare brain-eating amoeba, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed, about a week after St. Bernard Parish government officials assured the public that the parish was taking every precaution possible to flush out its water system.
The CDC has confirmed the presence of the Naegleria fowleri amoeba in four locations of parish’s water system in Violet and Arabi, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals said Thursday (Sept. 12).
Brain-Eating Amoeba Confirmed In St. Bernard Parish Water Supply, CDC Says
by Zoe Mintz, International Business Times
The St. Bernard Parish water system in Louisiana has tested positive for the rare brain-eating amoeba that killed a 4-year-old boy last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control confirmed Thursday. [..]
Officials believe the parish water system became compromised after its chlorine levels were low, according to state Assistant Health Secretary J.T. Lane. The parish will be flushing its water lines with chlorine for several weeks until they reach recommended levels, CNN reports.
Naegleris fowleri is a parasite found mostly in warm fresh water of ponds, lakes, rivers, and hot springs. It is also found in soil, near warm-water discharges of industrial plants, and unchlorinated or poorly chlorinated swimming pools in an amoeboid or temporary flagellate stage.
It can invade and attack the human nervous system and brain though the nasal passages. This is the only known pathway for the parasite, since it is neutralized in the mouth and gut by enzymes.
In humans, N. fowleri can invade the central nervous system via the nose (specifically through the olfactory mucosa and cribriform plate of the nasal tissues). The penetration initially results in significant necrosis of and hemorrhaging in the olfactory bulbs. From there, the amoeba climbs along nerve fibers through the floor of the cranium via the cribriform plate and into the brain. The organism begins to consume cells of the brain piecemeal by means of a unique sucking apparatus extended from its cell surface. It then becomes pathogenic, causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM or PAME). PAM is a syndrome affecting the central nervous system. PAM usually occurs in healthy children or young adults with no prior history of immune compromise who have recently been exposed to bodies of fresh water.
Even with early intervention using large doses of intravenous antifungals, the survival rate is 1% – 3%. the CDC recommends using nose plugs when swimming.
So, Don’t sniff the water? What about cold air vaporizers and humidifier? Granted Louisiana doesn’t have a low humidity issue, but what do you think they use in some air conditioning systems? Bourbon?
The question is what happened in St. Bernard Parish? From Yves Smith at naked capitalism:
For six years, we’ve discussed off and on how income inequality hurt the health of citizens, even in the top income strata. The US now ranks 27th in life expectancy among 34 advanced economies, down from 20 in 1990.
But in addition to the considerable health dangers of stress and weak social bonds, more obvious public health risks may be coming to the fore. Strained municipal budgets means reduced public services, and they can have direct health impact, such as frequency of garbage pickup, the level of staffing of emergency services, the number of hospital beds per capita (consider what happens if you have a natural disaster or disease outbreak and the number of sick and injured exceed the capacity of local facilities). [..]
Now on the surface, this may not sound like a big deal. Poor New Orleans parish screws up, putting kids at risk, but it can fix the problem cheaply and quickly. But the problem is the pathogen should never have been in the water in the first place. Chlorine is inexpensive, so that suggests the contamination resulted from human failings. One has to wonder if those are budget related, due to reduced staffing or changes in supervision procedures. [..]
The problem, of course, is that it will likely take some sort of calamity for the rich to realize that they can’t fully insulate themselves from the rest of society. And the sort of incident that will wake them up to that risk will almost certainly exact a bigger toll on everyone else, unless it’s of the guillotine and pitchforks variety.
Apr 19 2012
Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River. It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.
I have mentioned this is passing before, but here is the whole story about Ma getting running water. In those days, and I am thinking around 1964 or 1965, the City of Hackett decided to start a central water supply.
That was a BIG deal for lots of folks in my little town, and Ma was typical. Before we get into the details, let us see how she lived before running water.
Jun 11 2011
This is one of the first filters we made in Iraq. We are working on an US base south of Baghdad and it can be dangerous to be associated with the military. I gave these men the press, kiln and all the equipment they need to start up a shop. They are skilled potters and the one in charge is studying for his masters degree in engineering at the University of Babylonia. It took almost 3 years and 5 trips to Iraq to get the filter production started but we are finally underway. The men were so thankful for the opportunity. There is a great need for the filter in this area and the army has already ordered 2000 filters for distribution and the word is that the project is being studied at the highest levels. I realize that some of you have serious reservations about my work with the military but my goal was to help the people get access to clean water. The soldiers have a very tough job in a near impossible situation in Iraq and this effort seemed to do a lot to reinforce a commitment to help the people.
This is work that saves lives in Iraq every day, from God-forsaken little villages in the middle of nowhere all the way to Baghdad and the slums of Sadr City. Happy birthday, Richard Wukich! You made the world a better place for hundreds of thousands of people!
Feb 27 2011
Yacouba Sawadogo was not sure how old he was. With a hatchet slung over his shoulder, he strode through the woods and fields of his farm with an easy grace. But up close his beard was gray, and it turned out he had great-grandchildren, so he had to be at least sixty and perhaps closer to seventy years old. That means he was born well before 1960, the year the country now known as Burkina Faso gained independence from France, which explains why he was never taught to read and write.
Nor did he learn French. He spoke his tribal language, Mòoré, in a deep, unhurried rumble, occasionally punctuating sentences with a brief grunt. Yet despite his illiteracy, Yacouba Sawadogo is a pioneer of the tree-based approach to farming that has transformed the western Sahel over the last twenty years.
Transformed the western Sahel! And I gave up the Sahel for dead 10 years ago! But was there any real basis for this apparently very good news?
Feb 24 2011
Caught this report earlier on the PBS News Hour site and then went searching for the report, given yesterday at the National Press Club. The press club still doesn’t have anything but the announcement for up at their site, but I did catch the report and it page with plenty of backlinks as well as audio to the press club presentation.
Another scathing report we’d better pay attention to and start what should have already been a couple of decades old advancing this country towards the innovations, we were once envied for, needed to move forward.
Nov 30 2010
This has got to be the best political news I’ve read in a long time. A little before 1:00 a.m. last night, by a vote of 94-44, the New York State Assembly passed the moratorium on hydraulic fracture drilling.
Well it may only be state legislature and the governor still need to sign but apparently this moratorium to protect our drinking water is a first. It’s not top down and the Working Families Party humbly takes some of the credit for more than 52,000 New Yorkers signing the petition urging the Assembly to act.
Go ahead: get up from your chair. Do a little dance, pump your fist, or do whatever you do to celebrate a victory of grassroots action over corporate power.
I just received a letter form the WFP and I was doing just that.
Nov 16 2010
Laura Flanders of GRITtv.org talks with economist & Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington Dean Baker about the Obama Administration deficit commission‘s recommendations for massive cuts across the budget, most significantly to Social Security and health care programs, and with UK journalist Laurie Penny about the growing street protests in London last week. Flanders also talks here with Susan Leal, co-author of the new book Running Out of Water and about the corporate push to privatize water:
“It’s the wrong answer to not a problem,” says Dean Baker of the report out last week from the leaders of Obama’s deficit commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. The report, which recommends massive cuts across the budget, most significantly to Social Security and health care programs, has been roundly criticized by progressives for its targeting, but Dean notes that the biggest problem with it is that without the health care crisis we still have, we wouldn’t have deficits in the first place.
He joins us via Skype from Washington, D.C. to talk about the commission, the latest action by the Fed, and what can really be done to balance the budget–and why we should be much more focused on creating jobs and really reforming health care than on slashing programs that benefit us all.
“It’s fair to smash up someone’s future but not to smash up someone’s lobby,” notes UK journalist Laurie Penny of the student protests in London last week, now being branded as “violent” and “out of control.” Aside from one person who dropped a fire extinguisher off a building, she points out, the protests were free of violence against people, and property damage needs to be put in the proper perspective.
Laurie joins us via Skype from London, where she attended the protests and covered them for The New Statesman, where she is a columnist, to provide some perspective on misunderstood events–and to fill us in on why they’re said to be only the beginning.
“We’re on a collision course with our finite supply of water,” says Susan Leal, co-author of the new book Running Out of Water. It’s not just that the supply is limited, she notes, it’s our growing population, increased personal use, and climate change that are all playing into what journalist Anna Lenzer calls “the coming shock.”
Susan and Anna join us in studio to discuss water: why we’re limited, why privatization and drinking bottled water isn’t the solution, and why the problem has a better chance of being solved when people work together rather than have decisions imposed by private corporations.
GRITtv.org – November 15, 2010
Dean Baker, Laurie Penny, and the Coming Water Crisis
Oct 04 2010
We have been talking about sustainability recently, and one of the resources in most jeopardy is fresh water. In the United States the freshwater problem is becoming more and more significant, and in many parts of the world it is already desperate. We shall look at some of the methods used to purify nonpotable water tonight.
First of all, we need to understand what kind of water we are purifying. It ranges in quality from surface or ground freshwater, requiring only minor treatment to eliminate microbes that might cause disease (the vast majority of drinking and industrial water in the United States comes from these sources), all the way to seawater, with lots of intermediate kinds.
Apr 05 2010
I recently had an opportunity
to visit some shorelines on Lake Michigan
and Lake Huron (after almost 2 decades away)
and the peaceful inland seas,
were beautiful and restoring.
But what stunned me most
was the green algae mats, most places
(both dead and living).