The scandal of millions of Americans deprived of running water (Podcast)
The Public Utilities Building, located at 1201 Lakeside Ave., opens, consolidating all Cleveland Water management and business functions into a single location. Photo from Cleveland Water
"Guardian US environmental justice reporter Nina Lakhani tells Anushka Asthana about her water crisis investigation, which looked into why running water is becoming unaffordable for millions of Americans across the US. Water bills weigh heavily on many Americans as utilities hike prices to pay for environmental clean-ups, infrastructure upgrades and climate emergency defences to deal with floods and droughts. Federal funding for America’s ageing water system has plummeted, and as a result a growing number of households are unable to afford to pay their bills.
Albert Pickett inherited water debts from his mother after she died. Pickett applied to get on to a repayment plan, but the water department refused as he didn’t have the money, several hundred dollars, required as a deposit. Cleveland Water didn’t inform Pickett, who survives on disability benefits, about his right to appeal – instead, they turned off the taps in 2013. 'Without water you can’t do anything. I lost my family, my wellbeing, my self-esteem. It was humiliating, like I was less than human,' he says."