The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Who Wins and Who Loses in Flint’s New Water Deal?

Apr 24, 2017

The mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, recommended the city switch back to receiving its water from the Detroit water system for the next 30 years. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder praised the agreement reached between city, county, state and federal officials for providing “incentives” for the city to make the move. The news media were filled with reports of all the money the city will “save” compared to the cost of its original arrangement with the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) to build a new water pipeline from Lake Huron that led to the city’s lead contaminated water crisis. The new arrangement will “only” cost the city 269 million dollars compared with the 482 million dollars for the most expensive option.

Snyder, Weaver, and the media play it up as a win-win all around, saying the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), the agency that has taken control of the Detroit water system, has agreed to pay for the deal by giving Flint credits on the water it receives from Detroit. They say that Flint residents, who currently pay the highest water rates not only in the country but in the world, will not see their water bills double by 2022, as had been predicted. Their bills will “only” go up by 4 percent a year.

But if the GLWA is picking up the tab for Flint’s debts to the KWA, someone will have to pay for it. Residents from all the other areas that get their water from the GLWA, in other words.

And what nobody mentions is that the KWA still gets paid to continue building their pipeline. They’re the real winners. They and the fracking industry and big agricultural interests that want the new pipeline to provide large quantities of untreated water for their purposes, that is.

When the bosses’ politicians crow about a “great” financial arrangement, you can be sure there are some powerful monied interests behind it.