Updates from other water crises

It’s been a big news week for other cities’ water crises.

First, Detroit’s emergency manager returned control of the city’s water system to the control of the city last week amid massive protests about water shutoffs. Bankruptcy attorney Kevyn Orr was appointed emergency manager by the governor of Michigan last March to try to bring the city’s finances under control. He was granted “sweeping powers to remake the city’s financial plan, change labor contracts and sell city assets,” without the approval of the mayor or other elected officials of Detroit. Orr has insisted that the bondholders of Detroit’s water and sewer bonds must be paid in full as the city of Detroit goes through bankruptcy. One of the effects of prioritizing Detroit’s bondholders over residents is the decision to shutoff water to more than 17,000 people. The city imposed a temporary moratorium on the water shutoffs this past week, after it was given back control over the water system. The moratorium will end at midnight on Monday.

Meanwhile, 500,000 people in the city of Toledo are now without water for a second day after a toxin from an algae bloom in Lake Erie contaminated their water supply. The toxin, microcystin, was discovered in the water by the city’s water utility. More information is available (here and here, for example) about the toxicity of microcystin and its effects on humans than was (or is) known about MCHM. It is not clear when water service will be restored.

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