As we wrote about a few months ago, corporations that run privatized municipal water systems are ramping up efforts to take over even more public water.
In Jackson, Mississippi, which experienced a clean water crisis in August, the state’s governor is pushing for privatization rather than actually investing in and fixing the city’s aging infrastructure.
But it’s not all bad news.
As we’ve also written about, federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is pouring into state and local government budgets and, in turn, improving people’s lives.
When it comes to water infrastructure, some truly great things are happening, especially in places you might not expect:
- After 20 years of demanding a public water system, residents of rural Ivanhoe, North Carolina, are finally getting one after the local county government received $13,283,000 in ARPA funding.
- Flint, Michigan, where a lead crisis made global headlines in 2016, is using $8.6 million in ARPA funds to distribute $300 in water credits to every residential household with active meters.
- Arkansas has committed $280 million in ARPA money for infrastructure projects that will upgrade the state’s outdated and failing water systems.
- Oktibbeha County in Mississippi is using $5 million in ARPA funds to build public sewer infrastructure to replace residential septic tanks, many of which do not function well.
Throw in last month’s news that residents in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, stopped a corporation from taking over their public sewer infrastructure, and these stories highlight two truths:
One, we have to come together no matter our color or where we come from to organize and make our government work for all of us, not just the wealthy few.
And two, in order to fix this country’s aging infrastructure—including water systems but also roads, bridges, mass transit, internet, and more—the federal government must play a large role.
It was federal money that built the South’s first public schools and other infrastructure after the Civil War. The New Deal built roads and bridges across America in the 1930s and 40s, and it delivered hospitals for communities that had none. It constructed dams that controlled flooding, helped irrigate crops, and generated electricity.
The solution to this country’s infrastructure crisis—especially in rural areas—is a public one: massive funding from the federal government.
Photo by Jacob Barss-Bailey.