Water is a basic necessity of life. Here in the Great Lakes region, it seems like water is everywhere—from big lakes, rivers and inland lakes, to the water flowing from our taps. But the sad news is that our drinking water sources are not always safe.
Throughout the Great Lakes there are many threats, like industrial and agricultural activities, that impact our water every day. Additionally, failing water infrastructure in municipalities around the region has resulted in unsafe water and affordability problems.
For example, Flint, Michigan has been without safe drinking water since 2014, after the city switched water sources as a cost-cutting measure but failed to properly treat the water to keep lead from aging pipes from leaching into the water supply. Most recently, to meet state demands that they demonstrate a 70% water bill collection rate, the City of Flint began issuing shutoff notices to residents with past-due water bills, and has threatened 8,000 residents with foreclosure for nonpayment. Residents of Flint already pay the highest water rates in the US, twice as high as the national average and almost 2.5 times more than what the United Nations considers affordable.
As one of the most water-rich places in the world, we believe everyone deserves safe, affordable drinking water. Freshwater Future is finding ways to ensure our water stays safe for our 40 million residents who rely on the Great Lakes for their water, and working to assist the residents of Flint.
Funding Grassroots Advocacy
Freshwater Future awards grant money to grassroots organizations working on urban water initiatives, and provides stipends for Flint residents to participate in local task forces on water issues, so that a diversity of voices and problem-solving strategies are represented.
Promoting Inclusiveness in Decision-Making
Together with our grassroots partner organizations in Flint, we’re working to encourage city officials to hold public forums in neighborhoods throughout the city so that all residents can provide input on the city’s long-term source of drinking water.
Raising Money to Restore Water Service
Because the Hispanic & Latino community, much of which is undocumented, is one of the hardest-hit by the recent shutoffs, we’re helping to raise money to restore water service to those families and to prevent future shutoffs.
Building a Network of Activists
Nearly 100 people gathered together in February at the All About Water Meeting to learn about and discuss the challenges to improve the safety, affordability, and efficiency of water treatment and distributions systems. The Steering Committee that organized the meeting is planning future opportunities to take the conversations and strategies to the next step. Contact Hilliard Hampton at hillard(at)freshwaterfuture(dot)org for more information.
Freshwater Future is working to identify actions that can effect policy-level changes and to plan large-scale fundraisers, but you can help restore water service to families whose water has been shutoff by donating to this fundraiser.