“Municipal water service is so essential for public health — and for life itself — that it should not be treated as merely another budget line-item,” writes Law Professor Sharmila L. Murthy in “Lessons from Flint’s Water Crisis,” published on WBUR’s Cognoscenti website.
She warns that budget crises in other U.S. cities can lead to the same sort of municipal decision-making that resulted in contaminated water pouring from Flint, Michigan, taps.
“We need to create a financial safety net so that municipalities faced with slash-and-burn budgeting are not forced to compromise the health and welfare of their citizens. We must draw a line in the proverbial sand and not cross it,” writes Murthy. “The children of Flint who were poisoned by lead will never forget this — and let’s make sure that we do not either.”
Murthy, whose research interests include environmental law, poverty, and human rights has a law review article on the Detroit water shut-offs forthcoming: “A New Constitutive Commitment to Water.” Previously, she co-founded the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Program at Harvard Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.