For nearly three years, since April 2014, toxic water in Flint has been making people sick, and their pipes still have not been replaced to make their water drinkable. Congress has approved $100 million to help Flint residents, but that is well short of the estimated $216 million that is needed to fix their water system.
But Flint is just the tip of the iceberg. It seems like every day there are new reports from New York to Illinois, from Michigan to Mississippi about lead in water — in schools and in communities. Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin, and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead poisoning. No amount of lead is safe, yet between 15 million and 22 million Americans have lead service lines bringing water to their homes. Every year, lead leaching from drinking water pipes endangers people’s health. No one should have to worry about whether their water is safe.
Trump’s Infrastructure Plan? Build A Wall and Privatize Our Water Systems
Trump has focused his infrastructure plan on privatizing our water systems and building a controversial, wasteful, and unjust wall on the border with Mexico. Corporate food and trade policy played a significant role in the immigration issue. The North American Free Trade Agreement undermined family farmers in America, but it was a devastating blow to farmers and agricultural communities in Mexico. The NAFTA-mandated elimination of the New Deal era farm programs caused a free-fall in U.S. corn prices that lasted for years. Much of that artificially cheap corn was dumped on Mexico, pushing some 2 million farmers and farmworkers off the land, into the cities and ultimately across the U.S. border in search of work. U.S. pork exports to Mexico surged as well, and perversely, immigrants often worked in the very slaughterhouses responsible for the exports that harmed Mexico’s agricultural economy.
We have detailed the problems with Trump’s infrastructure proposal, and the wall would cost up to $25 billion to build – dollars that would have to be appropriated by Congress. Opposition to the controversial wall has received significant attention for good reason, but the budget issue has been less discussed. Yet it has significant impact. For the cost of the wall, we could replace 5 out of every 6 lead service lines in the entire country, protecting the water and health of millions of Americans.
It would cost an estimated $30 billion to replace every lead service line running to people’s houses. But there are limited federal funds available for infrastructure. The $25 billion could be put to much better use, helping to protect the health of millions of Americans through access to safer drinking water.
Trump used a populist message of saying he was going to fight for working-class Americans, but his water privatization scheme will result in higher water rates and will fail to address the water quality problems that largely fall on poor, working, and middle class Americans. Tell your members of Congress to put safe water first, and replace our lead pipes instead of building a wall and turning our water services over to Wall Street.