Saturday, August 16, 2014

The importance of infrastructure repair and re-investment...the water crisis in Toledo, Ohio

Serious article from titled "How crony capitalism and deregulation poisoned Toledo's water supply."  Turns out that the Mayor gave a premature "all clear", went on television and drink water out of the tap. The problem could have been prevented through investment in the city's infrastructure, but tax cuts were more of a priority. Here are some of the details. Please read the entire article.
Crumbling Infrastructure
Toledo’s main water intake and water treatment plant hasn’t been updated since 1941. The city was half its current size at the time current water infrastructure was built. The Ohio EPA has threatened to take over the water treatment plant in the past, citing a lack of care given to longstanding documented problems.
“We obviously have very strong concerns about the operability and the long-term capability of that plant,” Ohio EPA director Craig Butler told the Toledo Blade.
It would cost roughly $300 million to provide needed repairs to the water plant that ensure future algal blooms wouldn’t endanger the city’s drinking water. But rather than fund local infrastructure, Gov. Kasich, elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010, decided to give state tax dollars to the rich. Kasich's proposed income tax cuts come at a cost of $2.2 billion, which is almost eight times the cost of a new water treatment plant in Toledo. When Kasich first took office, he offered $400 million in state tax incentives for Sears to relocate its headquarters from Illinois to Ohio in late 2011. (Sears declined the offer.) By bending over backwards to give handouts to corporations and the ultra-rich, Kasich has seriously deprived local and county governments of badly-needed funding for infrastructure upgrades.
More Cuts to Local Governments
In the first budget he signed after being elected, Kasich cut aid to local and county governments by over $1 billion. Lucas County, which houses Toledo, has its state-based aid cut by $70 million in the last biennial budget. All of these cuts juxtaposed with Kasich's welfare for corporations and the rich makes it easy to connect the dots in what Kasich's true funding priorities are. Gov. Kasich'sincome tax proposal, which the legislature recently passed, cuts taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent by over $10,000 per year, and raises taxes on the bottom 20 percent of Ohioans by an average of $63. After his elimination of Ohio’s estate tax for the wealthiest families, cuts are expected to deepen in coming years.
Contrast Toledo’s crumbling water system with infrastructure in San Francisco, which prioritizes upgrades to its water infrastructure. The city’s Water System Improvement Program, or WSIP, was launched in 2007 and has since replaced more than 280 miles of pipeline, built new dams and reservoirs and put 11,000 people to work. WSIP’s current water system upgrades can be viewed here. The $4.6 billion project is at 80 percent completion.
If it weren't for hydrant flushing on a regular basis throughout the city, we would be under a boil water order. Add to that the waste of treated drinking water when the resource is scarce and it just doesn't make sense. Part of the Lake Worth 2020 plan will address replacing the city's water distribution pipes and fixing roads in the wake of the replacements. Here is what one of our pipes looks like in Lake Worth.