Sunday, March 8, 2009


Is it only me or does anyone else feel the New Berlin one-time payment of $1.5 million for the diversion of Lake Michigan water is borderline robbery?

I'm continually amazed at the naivete of the City in believing this will somehow make its way, economically (by fostering continued growth in New Berlin), back to the City. (Or that we need to be the bigger men and work with the suburbs. If that's the case, why not make some sort of regional governance and tax sharing measure part of the water diversion compact.) If there's one thing we should have learned by now from the last 50 or so years, it's that the suburbs don't understand how intimately connected to the City they are, and that the suburbs have continually, through policy and politics, shown a dislike - borderline hatred - for the City.

Let's add up the costs of the damage done by the "hollowing out" over the past few decades from white flight to the suburbs. Let's get a number to represent the fact that the City has to house and provide services for most of the poor. Let's put together some figures on the cost for added clinics, police, food pantries, etc. And, we can't forget to try and get some idea of the cost in decreased productive capacity in human capital from segregating the poorest. If New Berlin, or any other sprawling community wants water, I think all these factors should be included in the final price they pay.

Putting aside the economics, maybe, based purely on environmental concerns, this water diversion just shouldn't be done. Maybe this is Nature's way of saying, "Sorry. You're not supposed to be here." Maybe their only option is to shrink or halt growth. The law of diminishing returns comes to mind. Suburbs and sprawling growth are unsustainable. It's time people face reality and accept this. Sometimes we have to accept limitations and work within those boundaries.

Such as the City having to accept responsibility for the poor, and the associated costs, while the suburbs refused to help educate and care for the poor, and refused to institute transit options to help employ the people in the jobs popping up in the suburbs.

It seems the City should now be adopting the NIMBY perspective and returning the screw-you attitude. Unless of course you can pay us gobs and gobs of money. Because it's all about the money. Isn't that right O' land of strip malls, industrial parks, and retail wonderlands (aka - the suburbs)?

Water is the next oil. We are decades late in realizing our mistakes regarding oil. We can't afford to do the same with water.

For Further Reading:
Climate Change Requires Human Adaptation
Coping With Water Scarcity
Development, Sprawl and Water
Drowning In Delusions
Is Water The Next Oil?
Nobody Knows How Dry We Are
Severe Water Shortages By 2080
Sprawl And Sewer Overflows
The Politics of Water
Water For Profit
Water Wars

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