Water, water, everywhere. For the right price

There is some kind of very, very bad cover-up here, folks. And it goes to the very top of pile here in the US. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it’s serious.

One thing I do know is that there is a stampede to acquire water rights around the world, the thing that we all need to keep in mind is that profits trump people. In other words, we should never, ever assume that the environment, the health of humans and other species, or laws and regulations are being respected. Corporations have one thing they’re focused on: profits. Okay, two things. They also prioritize self preservation, and it’s within that second part that meaningless drivel is circulated like “corporate responsibility,” “respect of human rights,” “prioritizing local economic growth and development,” and “encouraging meaningful dialogue with investors.” Not to be cynical, but really, folks, those things mean absolutely nothing to a corporation. They do, however, tend to trip up and confuse normal and well-intentioned people who try to see the good in, and the best of, everything. A line must be drawn in our own non-corporate “brains” which classifies corporations, and those who speak on their behalf, as decidedly “other.” Not human, not caring, not nurturing and definitely not truthful. This may seem harsh and ugly but, without exception, this is the reality.

And by the way, can someone – anyone please tell me two things:

1) Why hasn’t Rick Snyder even been SUBPOENAED to speak before the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in Washington, D.C.? Who better to know why this happened than the person who made everyone accountable to only him, only answerable to him by circumventing the democratic process?

2) Why didn’t the federal government step in and help Flint when they knew they were being poisoned? It still isn’t happening. Keep in mind that every day, week and month of being exposed to lead in your water is very, very dangerous. And yet – nothing?

[The portion of this post in dark green is an update to the original post] According to an Op Ed in the Chicago Sun Times from Shikha Dalmia, the federal aid for Flint is actually something that they’ve already bought into. It’s not one cent more than they were already entitled to receive. Dalmia says:

“The federal 2016 omnibus spending bill put $1.4 billion in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that Uncle Sam created decades ago to help states defray the cost of federal clean water mandates. It was clear from the start that the president was drawing from this fund. But what was less clear was that Michigan is getting only the money it was entitled to – not a penny extra.

As per the law, every state gets a piece of the revolving fund pie based on a statutory formula that takes into account the state’s geographical area, population and the like. Michigan’s share under this formula works out to 4.75 percent – or $66 million of the $1.4 billion. But to get this money Michigan has to put up matching funds of 20 percent, or around $14 million. Add that together and you get the $80 million that Obama is taking credit for.”

Michigan is getting gutted, from the inside ~ out. And why not? They are sitting atop that new liquid gold I wrote about the other day, which is fresh water. It’s not for nothing that the real-life brilliant guy who Christian Bale portrayed in “The Big Short” (his name is Michael Burry) is now in the water business. And much like inviting Charles Manson into your house to use your phone when he says his car broke down, it is NOT going to end well for Michigan if corporations are allowed to control its water.It already isn’t working out well, right? But let’s move on to further proof of how badly this can end. We have a good, and very tragic example quite handy at this moment in Flint, Michigan, which I wrote about here.

But, wait. Wasn’t that just because of Rick Snyder’s stupid emergency managers? No, it was not entirely because of them. Those emergency managers, who look about as diabolical and dangerous as sell-out Brandon Nuttall, are pawns in a big game and they had very, very professional help to arrive at their conclusions, which does not make them innocent, by the way. Their professional help was truly the best in the business. So any reasonable person would have to wonder a) if it was deliberate, and b) who should pay the price, criminal and civil, for what happened to Flint’s water, which was left untreated in what can only be called, at the very least, the biggest “oversight” in history, and which then corroded pipes, leaching toxic lead into their drinking water. Which the people of Flint were left to drink for (going on) 2 YEARS. Two years. In April 2016, it will be two years, or 730 days, more or less. Flint has no grocery store, so it’s not like people can easily pop out to Wal Mart and pick up a tanker truck of bottled water. They’ve had to settle for toxic, leaded water for two years, so that’s boiling pasta in it, brushing your teeth with it, doing dishes with it, feeding it to your plants, your cat, your dog. You get the picture. It’s ugly and rotted out, much like the black heart of a corporation, if it had a heart. Which it doesn’t because “it” doesn’t give a shit about you, me, your kitten, your fern, your grandma, your baby, or your pregnant cousin. Not even a little bit of a shit. People need to accept this fact, and process it for a moment, and then move on with eyes wide open…in the future.

I’m going to focus on two big time, wealthy, and professional corporations involved in poisoning Flint because, chances are, many of those reading these words have contact with one or both of them right now. Remember. Keep your eyes open, because Flint’s cautionary tale may also be yours.

In that time honored phrase, “follow the money,” I traced back steps from Flint’s current poison water to where it started, more or less. And for the attorneys, investigators and those who wish to really get to the bottom of this, I’ve previously written about a corrupt, bad decision to commit Flint and Genesee county to a new water pipeline, essentially breaking up the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), cleaving it off into the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) and a smaller entity serving just Detroit. Along the way, perhaps running parallel, is the creation of the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA) which is the reason behind Flint’s water being altered in the first place. I can honestly say that in looking through some of the documents related to a) Detroit’s bankruptcy, b) the Michigan water situation, and c) the lunatic notion that Snyder via his emergency managers should run anything bigger than a dollhouse, the only winners are lawyers and corporations. The only losers are the people of Michigan, en masse, but particularly those that live in cities with emergency managers.

In addition to the finger pointing and assigning of blame in my previous piece on Flint, I’d like to throw in 2 other corporations which must be looped into this mess. Both of them impact a large swath of this country through their extensive business dealings, and both have thoroughly embedded themselves, with the help of Rick Snyder, into far too many aspects of Michigan public policy.

First up is Veolia Water
For all I know, the whole damn thing can be traced back to them. Veolia Water is the biggest private water company in the world. They’ve got their fingers in everybody’s dikes, so to speak. Breaking news reports indicate that Veolia has just purchased a nuclear waste clean up company called Kurion – a booming business with infinite need, as I wrote in a three part series which begins here. Lots of radioactive waste with no solutions about where it should go (Michigan?).

This may be a bit of a short cut, but I’d suggest that people get a notion of how big they are via this innocuous Wikipedia page. But don’t just look at the page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page (where it says Contract Violations) to see just some of what Veolia has been up to. That’s the tip of the proverbial and literal iceberg when it comes to how they’ve screwed up the most valuable resource on Earth…something that none of us can survive without (unlike fossil fuels). I’ve taken a bit of a short cut by just using Wikipedia here simply because of time constraints and also because if I didn’t, this post would be the length of War and Peace.

For the ambulance chasers and others who think that somebody had better pay for this crime scene in Flint, Michigan, I’d suggest that Veolia has been up to its ears in malfeasance. And they’ve been paid well for it all over Michigan.

But when it comes to being so lousy that it should be criminal, I’ll throw this out there. The March 2015 report I’ve put in the iFrame below is by Veolia, and it was paid for by Flint. It’s supposed to explain why their water is so wonky that everyone is getting sick, but it’s so incredibly bad that I’m left to conclude it’s criminal. Even a high school chemistry teacher who just started a job in a rural school district operating out of an old schoolhouse, who only took the job to pay off his student loans, could do better than this. I don’t even know what the fucking point of it was, to be honest, except to provide cover for someone or some thing.

My own personal non-scientific radar goes up when I see the color of Flint’s water (Veolia says its old pipes, air in the lines, whatever), coupled with the metal-ness and hardness of the water, and then throw in the smell and taste, all of which the residents of Flint complained about from the very beginning. One of the first things, THE VERY FIRST THINGS, anyone who knows anything about drinking water should be doing is lead testing. Hell, even the tiniest amounts of lead are too much, so a test for lead coming out of the taps should be the first, primary thing checked off the list. Veolia is a water company. There is a good chance that they are, or will be, involved in YOUR water, regardless of where you live. This company is worth billions of dollars. They want to own the world’s water. They even say it outright. So who in hell, except for THEM (and their lawyers), thinks this is a good idea? And, by the way, if Veolia hauls the US government, or an American town, or a US state, or anyone that wants to break an agreement with them, before an Investor State Tribunal, as they’ve done in Egypt, we are screwed because, a la the Trans Pacific Partnership or NAFTA, they will win.

Their egregious, lame, utterly basic analysis of Flint’s water is like a pediatrician having a two year old kid (who goes to daycare) come in for an exam, presenting with bright red cheeks, a fever, they’re also tugging at their ears, crying at night, and complaining of pain in their head; however, that same kid stubbed their toe in the waiting room on their way into the exam room. That hypothetical lousy pediatrician, if they were as lame as Veolia, would only examine the kid’s toe and suggest taping it up and giving them a few Motrin…never checking for strep or an ear infection, and then send them on their way. I don’t know if that’s a good analogy for some people, but for me, it works (I have 4 kids).

Anyway, here is Veolia’s ridiculous report on Flint’s water. My only hope is that this costs them millions of dollars, in the end, at the hands of some class action lawsuit or Attorney General:

Whatever Flint paid for that piece of garbage above needs to be refunded with the highest interest possible tacked on, and the money should, first of all, go to the residents of Flint and then a chunk should go to those plumbers who are fixing pipes on their own time.

Veolia has been paid MILLIONS by the State of Michigan. They’ve piddled the City of Detroit, DWSD, the Great Lakes Water Authority, and they’ll probably royally screw the rest of Michigan. If the KWA pipeline project is/was ultimately for, or about, them, then millions of other people are going to be really sorry.

Southeastern Connecticut recently expressed concern that Veolia screwed up in Flint and they also happen to have a contract with Veolia for their water. They are right to be worried. If this multibillion dollar group of supposed experts cannot even figure out that lead poisoning has been happening right under their French noses (which I find unbelievable), then they should be banned from touching water, in any way, except when they flush a toilet. In reading through their website a few weeks ago,  and then comparing it to what’s there now, I can see that some of it got scrubbed. But they’re not the only crooks covering their Brooks Brother’s clothed arses….

Meet Lockwood Andrews & Newnam
This 80 year old engineering firm, which is a subsidiary of the much larger Leo A Daly Company, has municipal and public works projects all over the place. I read through their website a few weeks ago and, funny enough, there was a mention of the City of Flint amongst their projects. but I can’t find it now. They still trumpet their involvement in Michigan’s KWA project, though. For now.

If I were an ambulance-chasing attorney, I’d go after these people first. They may not be as filthy rich as Veolia, but they’re easier to catch since they’re headquartered in the US. If you look through LAN’s website, chances are that you’ll find that either your city or state works with this group. People might want to rethink that.

So Lockwood Andrews & Newnam (LAN) began working with the City of Flint and other cities and states in Michigan years ago. They’ve managed to embed themselves in quite a few projects, such as the Karegnondi Water Authority (starting at least back to 2009 which is before it was even formally incorporated, which seems dodgy given the rest of the story), and which they’re still heavily involved in, the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) which was a by-product of the gutting of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), among others, but what is really going to cramp their style is that, in my opinion, they were the ones who let Flint emergency managers switch to the Flint River without treating the water for corrosiveness first. Sure, Veolia piled on and went along with their findings, but Lockwood Andrews & Newnam was specifically hired to oversee the temporary usage of Flint River water until their other lousy project, the KWA pipeline, was completed.

And now, in what will surely be a sight to behold, anyone who had a hand in the lead poisoning of thousands of people in Flint is flipping, being flipped, and eating their own in an attempt to prove how a) innocent, b) stupid, c) misguided, or d) all of the above, they are. It’s literally a race to the bottom. There’s probably a line forming outside the FBI’s Detroit office with people trying to save their own asses and throw someone else under the bus. THIS is what emergency management will get you, which is nothing but trouble, and a lack of accountability. Just ask people who’ve survived through a dictatorship what they feel about it. Short answer: they didn’t want it, nor like it.

So Lockwood Andrews & Newnam got paid $171,000 initially, to oversee the switch to the Flint River and then apparently decided they needed more, so another $244,900 got added on. Then they needed a lot more. Nobody in Flint appears happy that they had to pony up an additional $962,800 for Lockwood Andrews & Newnam to oversee their water being poisoned. Imagine that?  The last total I saw for their “services” was $1,378,700 for the privilege of being poisoned and potentially impaired for life. So there were meetings and reports although I can’t find most of them online. The one in the iFrame (below), which was commissioned and published (I assume it cost Flint extra) in November 2014, which was 7 months after LAN helped Flint start poisoning their own water, is chock full of so many onion layers of stupidity and which Veolia’s report (which I’ve put above) just builds upon and refers to, is almost painful to read, but here it is:

Then there’s the big meeting which took place in Flint with all kinds of report-loving people which I can’t find more records on. I’ll put $20 down on some scrappy paralegal finding some documentation about what took place at THIS whopper because finding the minutes of such a meeting is definitely going to be very expensive damning for someone. I’ve put a screenshot reference to it below, which I found mention of on the City of Flint website:

LAN Flint meeting

And if I were being paid (which I’m not, sadly) to uncover a bunch of dirt and corruption and wrongdoing in Michigan, first of all, I’d aim pretty high, because there is plenty of wrongdoing to go around, and unless investigators go for the very beating heart of this proverbial beast, this type of thing will just keep happening. Secondly, I’d try to figure out why I keep seeing these names pop up, more often than not, together, again and again, all over Michigan whenever things have gone wrong:

Veolia Water
Lockwood Andrews & Newnam
Miller and Canfield lawfirm
Jeffrey Wright/the Genesee County Drain Commission
Karegnondi Water Authority
UBS
JP Morgan Chase
Goldman Sachs
Bank of America
Merrill Lynch

Why the cities of Flint and Detroit, and the state of Michigan should be a cautionary tale
The same president, Barack Obama, who has made the US Department of Energy’s “all of the above” energy policy a free-for-all for the fossil fuel industry, has managed to open the flood gates to privatization of our water system. Much like how “all of the above” doesn’t sound that (overtly) dangerous, the nifty term adopted here is P3 (as in Public Private Partnership) and it’s now been embedded in legislation by our president, stripping away safeguards within the Clean Water Act. In June 2014, President Obama signed legislation, which, not surpassingly, passed both houses of Congress, called the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. This was not a good thing.

The US EPA, which is, of course, the same group who knew about lead poisoning in Flint and decided not to mention it to anyone, will be overseeing a pilot hand out program to encourage the looting privatizing of American water systems. What could possibly go wrong?

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6 comments

  1. I like what you wrote a (little long) but very interesting. I to believe that our water is going to the highest bidder. I have never heard of the above water company but have followed the antics of Nestel . I also thought it was strange that Coca Cola bottling never offered water to the people of Flint. I truly believe that if justice is to be served then Gov. Snyder would be arrested . Unfortunally justice is never served like it should be .

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  2. Would be interested to hear your perspective on who and how a cover up would take shape, and what are the most likely arguments Snyder, his EFM appointees, and Wright, …will make to cover up their actions? Your part one data raised my interest – especially the 85 million gallon figures that KWA was designed for, “…The KWA pipeline project and water treatment facilities were designed to provide a total of 85 million gallons per day of water. 60 million gallons per day will now be the responsibility of Flint (18 million gallons per day) and Genesee County (42 million gallons per day), which is probably a gross over-commitment as those populations are decreasing. And they are being stuck with the financing and down payments…”

    Are the figures you quoted for Flint (18 m. g.p.d.), and Genesee County (42 m. g.p.d.), their current usage rates, or expected rates upon completion? The overcapacity seems tailor made for the “outside Buyers” alluded to, who apparently are paying for the “… up front environmental studies, permits, consultants…everything…”

    The fact Snyder was not invited – as Democrat Darnell Earley was (Flint EFM) – to the House oversight committee hearing, troubles me greatly, …as if the cover up has already taken shape. If this trail is pursued, as you likely hope it will, …what is your best outcome expectation? Earley and other Snyder appointees taking the fall, the entire “Emergency Management” appointee program the Governor oversees, or the exposure of those seeking to exercise control over water resources? mb

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    • I couldn’t find how much water they HAVE been using. I’m sure it’s somewhere, but I didn’t see it, Michael. You’re right. Why wasn’t Snyder yanked out to DC? I’ll tell you one thing…it is very, very bad and strange that Obama clearly knew what was happening in Flint and yet NOTHING of substance was done. Nothing.

      If there were a manmade disaster in a distant country, the Red Cross, the military, everyone, would have been “dispatched” to fix it. And then, here in the United States, with every day a disaster when you’re left to consume water filled with lead, days, weeks and months tick away with no federal/emergency response. Then I see (and I wrote about in this post) that Obama green lighted the privatization of water systems. Then I see that Veolia has got some new deal for nuclear waste. Wtf? What do you think? I can’t see that anyone else, anywhere, has put this random, disparate stuff together. Maybe once it gets circulated, people closer to the situation (I am not in Michigan) will see some pattern that I am unaware of. I look forward to your (next) comment.

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