Authors: multiple Friends of SPUC Committee members
This is more like comparing apples to … orangutans.
On several occasions over the last year the City has made references to Flint Michigan when talking about Shakopee’s water. The City has stated that they are not putting out information to cause “fear-mongering” but to put out facts. The use of this Flint analogy is not only irresponsible and unethical. In fact, it proves that they are sensationalizing a tragedy to push their agenda – not providing facts as they state.
Here is a quick overview of the events of the Flint Michigan water crisis.
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the crisis began in 2014 “when the city switched its drinking water supply from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in a cost-saving move. Inadequate treatment and testing of the water resulted in a series of major water quality and health issues for Flint residents – issues that were chronically ignored, overlooked, and discounted by government officials [emphasis added].” *
An Emergency Manager assigned to the City of Flint by the State of Michigan switched from buying water from neighboring Detroit to pumping water from the Flint River. The river water that Flint began supplying to its customers was found to be extremely corrosive in comparison to the Detroit water. It caused corrosion to water distribution system piping, including lead water pipes. This corrosion caused elevated lead levels in the drinking water.
It is estimated that between 6,000-12,000 children were exposed to high levels of lead – the effects of which may not be known for years. Through the crisis, there were other issues that arose in Flint, including bacteria outbreaks, elevated levels of TTHM’s (cancer-causing byproducts from disinfection), and a Legionnaires disease outbreak. The outbreak killed 12 people and affected another 87. This is indeed a terrible tragedy.
But it has absolutely nothing to do with Shakopee water utilities.
While the City seems to imply that dissolving SPUC might prevent Shakopee citizens from a fate similar to that Flint residents, the facts will lead you to a different conclusion. The state-appointed Flint Emergency Manager was not an experienced utilities manager. Four government officials resigned over the mismanagement of the crisis, and two emergency managers appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder were charged with crimes.†
The Flint water crisis is actually an example of why keeping politics and government out of your water is essential. Keep in mind, the current City of Shakopee staff has never operated Shakopee’s municipal water system for one day. Yet they have already come up with a plan to “fix” what they say is “wrong.” The problem is what they say is wrong is based simply on their opinion (or invention) and not on facts or any professional engineering studies. Water utilities management should be in the hands of trained, certified professionals.
Shakopee water has been safe for 70 years.
Shakopee Public Utilities complies with the Federally mandated Lead and Copper Rule, which samples homes for the presence of lead and copper in drinking water systems to ensure safe drinking water. The Minnesota Department of Health, the regulatory agency for drinking water in the state of Minnesota, states that Shakopee’s water is safe. These types of statements, by the regulatory agency for safe drinking water in Minnesota, seem to be dismissed by the City. Why? Likely because these statements from credible, non-bias regulatory agencies don’t support their agenda and discredit their argument.
This is just one more reason why we believe the City’s real reasons for wanting to dissolve the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission are NOT what they say they are. The facts just don’t support the City’s positions. Vote NO, and maintain the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission to keep your water safe and keep your utilities out of politicians’ hands.
* Denchak, M., 2018. Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need To Know. [online] NRDC. Available at: <https://www.nrdc.org/stories/flint-water-crisis-everything-you-need-know> [Accessed 12 October 2020].
† Fonger, R., 2016. Two Former Flint Emergency Managers Charged With Water Crisis Crimes. [online] mlive. Available at: <https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2016/12/former_state_emergency_manager.html> [Accessed 12 October 2020].