It’s been, what, four months now since I last made a blog post. I’ve had some personal things going on that have put a damper on my appetite for politics, but those matters have been worked through. Meanwhile, a number of local matters have flared up recently, prompting me to write again.
One of those issues was the posting in the Houston Chronicle on March 20th that the Environmental Working Group, a Washington D.C. based non-profit, had issued a report that the City of Houston’s tap water is laced with levels of Chromium 6 that are reportedly 35-300 times recommended health levels. Chromium 6 is recognized as a human carcinogenic agent. The article went on to recommend that Houstonians install water filtration systems in their abodes to make the water they are getting from the City safer.
But wait! There’s more! One issue of larger significance seemingly slipped by most of the local news and blogging community last year. Namely, the U.S. EPA has had the City of Houston in its sights for some time now because of hundreds of sewer spills recorded annually which are getting into Houston area water supplies. I knew this issue was looming on the horizon back in late 2015, as I had attended some meetups with former City of Houston mayoral candidate Bill King during the run up to the November 2015 election, and Bill mentioned this to us more than once. However, since I am a lowly, know-nothing Libertarian Republican blogger, I thought it would be pointless to write about the matter at that time since I don’t have establishment credentials or credibility.
On the poor water stewardship of cities and neglecting Houston’s poor
A Houston Chronicle story from last year noted that the U.S. EPA has been on the warpath against dozens of cities across America, enforcing the federal Clean Water Act and pushing municipal governments into cleaning up their water and sewer problems. Rather than face lawsuits that they would almost certainly lose, City of Houston officials (like other municipal leaders across America) have been trying to negotiate a consent decree with the U.S. EPA, which would still force the City to raise water and sewer rates to fund some $5 billion in water and sewer upgrades. In some cities, residents have seen 100-150 percent increases in their water and sewer bills. Furthermore, both Chronicle stories make a clear case that the Houstonians being hurt the most by the City’s neglect of water and sewer matters are Houston’s poor. Areas with large percentages of poor Hispanics and poor Blacks are the places where overflows and spills are most likely to occur.
So, what to do about this? One idea would be to privatize water and sewer, and then anyone with issues with the water supply could presumably sue a private water and sewer provider for any harm done. However, since there are hordes of people out there who simply cannot bear to stand the concept of private water ownership, that leaves the issue in the political realm. And, the hard bitter fact of the matter is that Houston has been under control of Democrats for decades now. Bob Lanier, Lee Brown, Bill White, Annise Parker, and now Sylvester Turner were (and are) all dyed in the wool Democrats. If the Democratic Party really had its act together, they’d stop shrieking that Donald Trump is a fascist looking to turn America into China environmentally and start looking towards their own backyards. There, they would find that they are failing the very constituencies they have long claimed to speak for.
Local Republicans, if they bothered to put forth the effort, could also gain a renewed foothold in communities which have been environmentally abused by local Democrats. Are you paying attention, Harris County Republican Party?