Record Investment Scratches Surface of Fixing Black America’s Water Crisis

"Reporting from six Black cities highlights that while the country’s water woes are widespread, blanket solutions fail to address communities’ distinct issues."

"Gwendolyn Reed-Davis recalls living without running water during the holiday season last year, merely months after a water crisis left Jackson, Mississippi, residents struggling to bathe, cook, and flush their toilets.

The mother of 12 says the city’s years-long struggle has harmed public health and threatened the development of a whole generation of children.

Since December, Congress has earmarked $600 million to fix the city’s century-old water infrastructure, and the U.S. Department of Justice appointed longtime sanitation manager Ted Henifin as the third-party manager of the city’s water system. However, Reed-Davis says she hasn’t seen any progress made in her south Jackson neighborhood, especially compared to improvements she’s seen made in more affluent neighborhoods.

Poor and Black communities may be among the last to reap the benefits of the federal government’s record investment in repairing the nation’s aging water infrastructure.

The Biden-Harris administration has earmarked more than $50 billion to replace lead pipes, build new water treatment plants, and regulate the industries contaminating waterways nationwide — but the expenditures are only a fraction of what’s needed. A 2018 federal report found that more than $470 billion is needed to maintain and improve the nation’s drinking water infrastructure over the next 20 years."

Adam Mahoney and Aallyah Wright report for Capital B via Inside Climate News June 8, 2023.

Source: Capital B, 06/09/2023