A yearlong investigation by Heavy found that privatized water management has been a disaster for American towns, with residents paying 59% higher fees for water, on average; suffering high-profile health problems; and bracing for an infrastructure time-bomb.
Residents of contracted towns, from Indiana to Florida, are commonly paying almost $200 more each year, while some Eastern cities have found life-threatening lead in tap water as part of the wreckage left from their contracts. And it’s set to get worse, with both the Trump administration and numerous local authorities pushing to privatize, despite the devastating number of failures.
Crystal Fortwangler was teaching a course on environmental justice that touched on the Flint water crisis when she got a note in the mail about her own water system in Pittsburgh. Below the boilerplate text on water quality there was a short notice from Pittsburgh’s privately run water authority indicating that the city’s water had tested higher than normal for lead — and offering residents an option to have their own water tested.
Fortwangler, then working as an assistant professor at Chatham University, thought a test might make for an interesting exercise for environmental […]