Water and Sewage

The Detroit City Council is bankrupt and unable to develop a fully comprehensive city plan. However they do have the resources to manage and plan the water and sewage ways. Michigan’s water source has recently been in the news due Flint’s water crisis. The governments failed on a federal, state and local level after ignoring the complaints about the smell, color and taste of the water in 2014 [1]. The switch in the water source was agreed upon as a cost-cutting move by Flint City Council, to draw water from its own Flint River and use its own water treatment plant. Previous from that switch, Flint had used water treated by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department [1]. The switch was not done properly; it failed to mandate the needed chemicals to be added to the corrosive Flint River water, resulting in lead leaching from pipes and fixtures into the drinking water. This has led to anyone who drank the city tap water being exposed to lead, children being the most susceptible to lead poisoning. In census data, since April 2014, when the switch was made, 8,657 children have been exposed to lead. Tests conducted between October and December 2015 show that 43 people have elevated blood lead levels [1].

It is important to note, that even with Detroit being a bankrupt town, they invest time and money into their water and sewage systems, including a sub-comprehensive plan [2]. It demonstrates how the city currently is placing most of its resources into essential needs. Flint’s cost saving measures to try to switch away from Detroit’s water source into their own reflects the whole region of Detroit struggling economically.

Detroit and Flint are 70 miles apart and despite both being financially struggling towns in Michigan, dramatically different outcomes are obvious on their water and sewage planning. The Flint water decision was approved by an emergency manager appointed by a governor and therefore did not go through a planner or the normal means of a planning process. It is reflected as a ‘systematic failure of governance’ [3]. The lack of planning contributed to this problem in Flint’s water contamination. The lack of overarching state enabling governance in Michigan could be the result of the less-than-desirable outcomes of some of its cities, as Detroit’s shrinkage has made it into a deserted area and Flint’s water source switch resulting in dire outcome for the children.

water and sewage
Fig 1: Location of Flint’s Change in Water Source [1]
wawter and sewage2
Fig 2: Location of Flint’s Change in Water Source. [2] 

Works Cited

  1. Durando, J. (2016, January, 20). How water crisis in Flint, Mich., became federal state of emergency. Retrieved from: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/01/19/michigan-flint-water-contamination/78996052/
  2. City of Detroit. (2001). DWSD Systems Plan. Retrieved from http://www.detroitmi.gov/How-Do-I/Find/DWSD-System-Plans.
  3. Egan, Paul. (2016, March, 04). Republican Presidential Debate in Detroit. Retrieved from: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/03/03/flint-water-crisis-discussed-gop-debate-detroit/81285932/


List of Figures:

1.“Flint-Detroit, MI”. Map. Google Maps. Google, 4 October 2013. Web 8 March 2016.

2. “Flint-Detroit, MI”. Map. Google Maps. Google, 4 October 2013. Web 8 March 2016.