Water Woes in Michigan

Most have likely heard at least a little about the water problems in Flint, Michigan. For those that haven’t or for those that aren’t exactly sure what’s going on, the problem is lead and inept government officials at every level in the state. Nearly two years ago Flint started to draw its water from a local river rather than Lake Huron in a scheme to save money.

As a consequence, nearly two years have passed since safe drinking water flowed from faucets in Flint. Officials failed to treat the corrosive water properly to prevent metal leaching from old pipes. Despite evidence that the water was contaminated, Governor Rick Snyder and his appointed emergency manager ignored the health of Flint residents in favor of saving costs. Adding insult to injury, residents didn’t learn they were drinking tainted water until the state issued warnings a year and a half after the switch was made.The Water Front

This isn’t the first time the confluence of inept (corrupt?) government officials, water and money have lead to frustration, heartache and misery for Michigan residents. More than two years ago I selected The Water Front (2007) as one of the first SavvyRecommendations. This short documentary (53 minutes), tells the story of Highland Park, a Detroit suburb, known as the birthplace of the auto-industry. Before Flint there was Highland Park. In June 2001, due to the city’s mounting fiscal crisis, an emergency financial manager was appointed under the supervision of the state of Michigan.

Residents of this city were receiving water bills as high as $10,000, had their water turned off, their homes foreclosed, fought to retain access to water, and struggled to keep water – what many consider to be a basic human right – from becoming privatized.

While the documentary uses water, and water bills, as the backdrop, this story is more than about water.  It is about an American city in crisis and how its citizens attempt to navigate an impossible labyrinth when power, access to resources and money are brought into play.

Take an hour to check out The Water Front Documentary.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. That is so insane and unfortunate! Thank you for shedding light on this issue. Can’t wait to watch the documentary.

    • While a few years old, the documentary tells the sad (infuriating) tale of the water issues in Highland Park and unfortunately, illustrates that many of the issues – failed government at all levels in the state, the hiring of an emergency manager, profits before people, etc. – are still at play in Michigan.

  2. Wow….this is crazy! Problems come with life, but some problems are just a little silly. Not being able to live the way I want to because of my water bill is nuts. I am amazed by these type of problems in parts of our country. Just wish we had more people in Congress who are willing to help the people vice being obsessed with whatever the President is doing.

    • Indeed. It’s insane to think that people living in the part of the country, with lots of fresh water lakes and rivers can’t get reasonable access to potable water. Thanks for adding your voice to the conversation.

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