The Flint River Water Company
The Real Flint, Michigan Water Pipeline
Well, it would appear as if America has finally experienced our first catastrophic infrastructure failure.
After decades and decades of preparing for just such an event, we have finally managed to poison the population of an entire American city, and, in the process assure that virtually no one has a clue as to how we might figure out what on earth to actually do next.
As with all American events that are not catastrophic there comes dozens of suggestions as to how to non react, I’m going to suggest that because this one is our first catastrophic event, there will be that many more about how we actually should react. Given the fact that our American society as a whole has advanced its intellectual awareness of life on planet earth much more substantially than it has advanced its understanding of such things as mechanical infrastructure, I am going to take the risk here and suggest that in all likelihood, long before we as a nation come to the conclusion that maybe we should knuckle down and simply replace all the water pipes in Flint, Michigan, other much more humane routes should be explored first.
Here are a few options:
- Remove all of the people from Flint via military air lift, equipping each one with a parachute and randomly scatter them about the landscape of our remaining 47 continental United States.
- Turn whats left of Flint into a wildlife sanctuary for migrating Chernobyl ducks.
- Use the sanctuary as an outdoor classroom for Detroit School Children wanting to study the effects of lead poisoning on something other than their Detroit schools.
- Solve the damn problem.
The fact of the matter is this; Flint, Michigan is no different than thousands of other communities throughout our American nation. Our American infrastructure, is, on virtually every level, so far beyond shot, it is only by the Grace of God that more of these types of wholly non preventable disasters aren’t occurring. Whereas I or anyone else could go on forever stating why this has occurred; Flint, Michigan simply needs its whole house re-plumbed, and, it needs it now in 2016, not 2017.
So how do we do it?
How do we re-plumb the entire city of Flint, Michigan? Something that virtually no branch of American government can possibly figure how to do.
Step #1 – Concrete and asphalt saw cutting and material removal.
Operating from within an urban footprint comprised of a six block by four block geographical grid which would include every single block in the city of Flint, Michigan utilize either hand held, excavation equipment mounted, or, light duty truck mounted concrete and asphalt saw cutting machinery to score one four foot wide path the length of an individual city block between the city street curb and the public sidewalk running parallel to the homes located adjacent to that municipal sidewalk across any sidewalks or driveway aprons located on every side (4) of said city block.
Remove cut material from four foot swath and place on paved street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Step # 2 – Sod cutting, rototilling and skid loading equipment.
Within the boundary of the above mentioned municipal right of way, utilize sod cutter to remove municipal grass. Place rolled municipal sod/grass on paved street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Within same boundary, utilize rototiller to pulverize and aerate road salt infested and crusted top soil.
Within same boundary, utilize skid loader to remove road salt infested and crusted top soil from municipal right of way area to adjacent street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Step # 3 – Chainsaws, stump grinders and wood chippers.
Utilizing above mentioned equipment, prune all trees along public parkway. Remove trees from public right of way that show signs of excessive disease or other global infestation based blight conditions. Place all removable organic material on adjacent street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Step # 4 – Stop, relax and visit with your neighbors.
Drink plenty of bottled water. Shower once a month. Do not worry about how you smell. Occasionally drink wine and locally brewed beer while having dinner cooked over fire pits lined with sections of saw cut sidewalk concrete and filled with wood chips from pruned neighborhood trees. Invest in bags of marshmallows. Discard neighborhood dining materials on adjacent street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Step # 5 – Transit and excavation.
Use transit to set trench depth for new rain water reservoirs and drain lines. Use backhoe to remove subsoil from area. Place subsoil on adjacent street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Use both backhoe and trenching machine for soil cutouts from city curb to individual personal properties. Place this additional soil on adjacent street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Step # 6 – Remove concrete public side walk the length of street an all (4) sides.
Saw cut and remove existing municipal sidewalk and place on paved street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Excavate bedding material from beneath public sidewalk and place on paved street. MATERIAL IS NOT TO BE REMOVED FROM BLOCK IT WAS EXTRICATED FROM.
Step # 7 – Pulverize removed saw cut concrete and asphalt.
Utilizing on site stationary equipment, pulverize removed material to consistencies required for rain water drainage and filtration and/or sub gravel base for new water supply lines. REUSE MATERIAL FOUND ON STREET FOR SUCH. STORE ON STREET UNTIL NEEDED.
Step #8 – Screen removed subsoil of debris,
mix with wood chips.
REUSE MATERIAL FOUND ON STREET FOR SUCH. STORE ON STREET UNTIL NEEDED.
Step #9 – Install rain water collection cisterns and rain water drain lines.
Upon determination of expected rain water volume per given block, install cisterns where required into excavated area of municipal right of way. Install associated rainwater drain lines between cisterns and up to and including contact with building foundations located on said block.
Install new fresh water supply lines in same manner.
Step #10 – Install rain water monitoring and pumping technologies.
Technologies to be installed include meters, gauges, pumps, valves, subsequent supply side irrigation piping and electrical wiring required to tie systems into each individual private or public sector architectural dwelling for the purpose of overall technological management of each individual rain water block grid system in the city of Flint, Michigan.
Step #11 – Install fresh water supply lines.
Within the previously determined eight block/four block grid framework, install water supply lines for area based upon combined water volume and pressure as both are coming off of grid specific micro pumping and filtration needs as such needs are defined within the above block grid framework, anticipating in the process, overall city grid interface.
Step # 12 – Install fresh water monitoring, filtration and pumping technologies.
As the key to Step # 12 is the wholesale acknowledgment of the substantial evolution of a broad host of highly advanced water purification technologies, water monitoring, and, subsequent water pumping, or, perhaps more specifically, the overall functionality of water as such functionality can be enhanced via a small and energy intensive, as well as, highly functional neighborhood block grid framework, should in fact, be included within the water purification or filtration function, due, exclusively to the fact that the historic citywide purpose of both filtering and pressurizing water is industrially and economically obsolete when compared to new technology.
In other words, what is serving to seriously jeopardize physiologically, as well as, economically, the whole environmental health of communities throughout America, is most certainly not the lead contaminated water lines, or, the fact that the water lines were once made of lead, nor, the fact that these water lines still exist, and, are still used, but, the ancient almost biblical industrial attitude that water purification must come from one sacrosanct municipal regulatory authority that is as every bit as obsolete as the water pipes in America are in the first place. Thus, as removing that obsolescence has at its core the removal of a vast body of regulatory uselessness attached to it, and it does has well have the responsibility to remove the equally vast body of regulatory employees who haven’t in the past forty years been responsible for anything other than pouring a gallon a bleach into a water system designed to sustain the whole health of virtually millions and millions of Americans nationwide.
All of this and more then is ample justification to finally address the fact that America and infrastructure should, in all likelihood, finally begin to mean the same thing once again. As it comes to our water supply, micro filtration, micro storage, micro distribution not only leads to this end goal but does as well lead to the end of self centered and useless top down micro management of that water supply. Having said the above Step # 12 simply defines a set of relatively easy to assimilate definitions of micro filtration, micro storage and micro distribution all of which again are intrinsically tied in to the whole of Flint, Michigan’s total water supply system. Not only does such an approach bring very specific water control measures to a given rectangular grid, but, it brings to that grid as well, a unique and dynamic interaction with other utilities such as rainwater management and the infrastructure of natural gas supply that would not otherwise be made available.
At any rate, getting back to the labor functions of Step # 12.
From a municipal water utility perspective, the amount of technology required on the municipality’s end of the water supply chain is basically that which would be found in any application of drinking water storage, filtration, and distribution. Centrally located micro treatment facilities within each given multi block block grid. Beyond the installation of individual water shut off valves to private properties then would really be all then of what the municipal side of water supply would be responsible for providing the end user with.
On the private side of municipal water supply management however, a broad range of 21st century water needs and wants would be found, and, an equally broad range of industries associated with those needs and wants would flourish if in fact proactive water regulation was put into the same micro development context as the rest of a proactive municipal water system. Within such a context, the collective body of industries associated with water filtration in particular would see a rather substantial uptick in overall economic growth. If you take the time to visit the link below, you will be able to note that while every ounce of municipal water is purified for the purpose of either human consumption or general bathing needs, only ten percent of all of that water nationwide is used for such purposes. This means that ninety percent of our filtered water supply is essentially filtered for no good reason. Having said this, the issue of profit as such profit is defined from the perspective of private water use brings to the discussion not only the dynamic nature of industries that are engaged in the irrigation of green urban, private sector garden space, but the remarkably divergent funding model for rebuilding our nation’s overall municipal water infrastructure in the process.
At any rate, getting back to the labor functions of Step # 12 once again, while the labor associated with installing the municipal water block grid itself is comprised of essentially nothing more than installing new supply lines into existing municipal public right of way land, attaching said water lines to modern micro treatment facilities that could in all likelihood be found in community centers, public school based or park based field houses and gymnasiums, police stations or fire stations, the again clearly more diverse dynamic will be the end of the water line that attaches itself to private buildings on private properties. As the outcome of all of this is most assuredly the creation of new industries, the outcome is as well the remarkable demand for public/private sector educational modeling as well a remarkably sustainable model for long term job growth in all such public and private water resource management sectors.
As all of the above serves to simply put a stop to any form of blame shifting and to simply get on with the task of rebuilding this infrastructure, if this was actually accomplished in our America, none of us would have to any longer read articles such as the one I have linked to below.
Step # 13 – Installation of new natural gas supply lines, architectural based and transportation based gas meters.
With the public right of way already dug up for the installation of new rain water and water supply lines, installation of new natural gas supply lines is simply a given whereas addressing such installation of associated technologies pertaining to the whole function of all advanced management of natural gas is as well.
Step # 14 – Final preparation of site prior to back fill.
Once all primary utilities are installed (note: raw sewage lines and electric power lines are not included in this scenario), the installation of recycled aggregate for proper surface water drainage of rainfall and the subsequent installation of filtered sub soils (or back fill) would be done to the area of municipal right of way. REUSE MATERIAL FOUND ON STREET FOR SUCH. STORE ON STREET UNTIL NEEDED.
Step # 15 – Final installation of related sub utility infrastructure.
For the sake of this document, “sub utility infrastructure” is defined as additional piping and/or mechanical equipment housings directly associated to the function of the primary installed utilities. Such infrastructure would be dedicated, task specific lawn and garden watering and drainage systems for both public right of way and private properties that would simply serve to complete the whole industrial function of say a block grid rainwater collection and disbursement system, swimming pool filling, car washing, pressure washing, etc. – any mechanical entity found to be associated with either rainwater or fresh water supply use that is not directly related to the human consumption of the same that can be regulated for the purpose of maintaining the long term structural health of said utility infrastructure while at the same time fostering the growth of a wide variety of private sector manufacturing and service sector industries related to the same. PLEASE NOTE: The removal of any existing utility infrastructure is not done at all period. Such infrastructure will remain in ground permanently once decommissioned UNLESS such infrastructure has either any realistic resale valuation attached to it, or, any overwhelming negative long term environmental health risk attached.
Step # 16 – Final installation of top soils and finished surfaces.
Once all required mechanicals have been set, installation of final surfaces can begin. With the key surface being the installation of a new municipal walkway, the obsolete function of the original municipal sidewalk can now be addressed.
When Is A Sidewalk Not A Sidewalk?
A sidewalk is not a sidewalk the moment it can be determined that said sidewalk is an advanced form of urban transit, and, as such must be designed to reflect whole traffic volume.
Having said the above, the traditional 4′ wide city sidewalk became obsolete in our United States at about the same time bicycles began to be mass produced for the children of baby boomers which by the way, coincides with the time long ago when our nation began to loose sight entirely of not only the function of sidewalks but the function of streets and alleyways adjacent to those sidewalks. Enough said.
The point here is a city sidewalk should, more than likely, have a width that ranges from at the minimum 8′ and at the maximum 12′.
As most people could easily understand why such a width would be beneficial for walking, my justification for the establishment of width criteria for a municipal sidewalk comes from what perhaps might be considered as different, or maybe even obscure. But, as what I am stating pertains to a traditional sidewalk that has virtually no practical industrial function left to it, all of the industries that still utilize the sidewalk, utilize as well a broad range of technologies that are simply demanding of that sidewalk and the municipality that provides, maintains, and, in fact governs said sidewalk to widen itself. Once the sidewalk is widened, a multitude of pedestrian, physical fitness, public transit and freight delivery as well as public safety needs that are now overwhelming vehicular traffic corridors in precisely the same manner as vehicular traffic corridors are overwhelming sidewalks, get resolved.
Think about this for a minute.
If you can picture yourself sitting on your front porch in say any urban neighborhood any where in America and doing so for a full two weeks without interruption, what type of activity would you find yourself observing on a daily basis that would lend itself to the widening of a city sidewalk?
The very first thing that comes to my mind is the effort that must be put forth by the mail man or mail lady so that at some point in the day, while you are sitting on your front porch, he or she will walk up to you and either hand you your mail, or, deposit the mail of others into the mailboxes on the front porches of your neighbors. As such a thing has been going on since time began, the suggestion of modifying that routine in any way, is for the most part, not even within the realm of any aspect of normal everyday American thought. With the natural expectation being that as long as one has a mailbox and mail is deposited in that mailbox, all of American life will go in normal perpetuity and how such things like getting the mail to and from are left to the realm of believing in Santa Klaus and his Reindeer, once such fantasy is erased from the mind, the structural nuances of actual mail delivery begin to reveal themselves. As they do, the real justification for widening the municipal sidewalk becomes more than clear, particularly when one considers the advent of the light duty urban electric utility vehicle (EUV) or the urban hybrid(fuel) utility vehicle (UHUV) and the intrinsically more subtle micro industrial fact that the mail is delivered more or less at predetermined periods of time throughout the course of the day in every neighborhood, urban or rural, throughout America and in fact, most of the civilized world.
With this being the case, the width of a sidewalk within the neighborhood block grid being continuously defined in this essay takes on not only a substantive discussion that justifies the determination of said sidewalk width, but, the equally substantive discussion of Federal Post Office neighborhood sub stations all of which suddenly becomes that much more tangible due entirely to not only the widening of said sidewalk and the advent of advanced vehicle models that could easily move along said sidewalks, but, the subsequent de-congesting of freight based US Mail traffic on existing and traditional neighborhood vehicular transit arteries to begin with. Whereas this would be true for the simplified and streamlined delivery of mail, such activity would be equally true for private entities such as UPS or FED EX.
In the same regard, the widened municipal sidewalk designed to accommodate such alternative vehicles would lay the groundwork for such entities as landscape companies, florists, cake bakers and pizza delivery drivers to actually fund such sidewalk infrastructure upgrade and continuous monitoring via a relatively straight forward and historically functional and constantly funded inter neighborhood transit corridor use tax, which would be identical to any other municipal tax base specifically targeted to roadway improvement and maintenance but whose emphasis in this regard is strictly confined to light duty service based vehicles operating from within the structured time frame of non intensive normal pedestrian based foot traffic use models.
Within the realm of public safety, the very same sidewalk widening brings to the community such sidewalks pass through, a much closer dialogue of community social interaction which in turn brings the framework of public safety that much closer to the front porches such widened sidewalks pass by.
Think about this for a minute.
If in fact what we are talking about here is the development of a wide range of micro utility infrastructure that functions for all practical purposes, entirely beneath whatever sidewalk is located above, and, in the process, we have identified a certain need to construct architectural dwellings that house the mechanical components required to operate the same, what then is preventing us from utilizing said architectural dwellings as post office substations, police and/or EMS substations, and in general, micro architectural environments that because of widening a sidewalk, and, because of the advancement of a broad host of informational based management technologies directly pertaining to all of the above, makes the whole thing possible to begin with.
As within such dialogue, enormous amounts of financial and regulatory pressures are removed from the management of our nation’s transportation based infrastructure model, (as such a model pertains to urban vehicular congestion as well as the subsequent loss of revenue from both a broad host of urban manufacturers and retailers due to such congestion), the simple widening of a long redundant social consciousness pertaining to the original purpose of the urban industrial sidewalk produces truly remarkable results. Whereas the sidewalk now widened brings to the forefront of urban social thought the enlivened possibility of equally enlivened neighborhood based trust dialogue, as that dialogue is taking place quite casually on 12′ wide city sidewalks while watching the mail man scoot by, or, Mrs. McGilicutty’s gardener towing, with his or her urban utility vehicle, a trailer of Daffodils off loaded three blocks away from a two ton hybrid interurban delivery vehicle, would clearly serve to suggest the notion that while the heightened overall industrial efficiency of the sidewalks brings substantially more economic diversity to the neighborhood, it does as well bring substantial new dialogue to the management of all transportation based infrastructure dialogue in general.
Getting back to the reconstruction of Flint, Michigan’s water supply infrastructure, and, specifically to the completion of Step # 16 – Final installation of top soils and finished surfaces.
Beyond the municipal sidewalk lies the grass between the sidewalk and the city street as well as the grass between the sidewalk and the private architectural dwellings the city street holds the social prestige of enabling travelers to actually get to and do so in a once remarkably graceful and beautiful manner. When you think about the notion of getting into a “car” then, and, traveling to a friend’s home for an enriching personal visit, or, getting on your bicycle to do the same, one of the motivations for doing so is the fact that your friend’s home is located somewhere that is, from a geographical, or, perhaps, climatic perspective, just a wee bit different environmentally from the geographical or climatic environment you and your significant others experience by living in on a daily basis what you collectively enjoy, but really need to get away from once in awhile.
As the notion of “let’s blow this Popsicle stand” enters into your mind, the reason it does is essentially based upon the notion that your favorite girlfriend, or, your favorite best buddy guy friend has taken the time to plant a garden that expresses their personal affinity to the geographical region of their childhood that enables them to celebrate their truly organic pursuit of nurturing the vegetation common to such geographical regions to begin with, while acknowledging as well the depth of their own deeply significant and quite personal organic gardening based ancestral heritage.
With this urban neighborhood widening sidewalk based consciousness in mind, the removed topsoil from the original excavation of Flint, Michigan’s overall streetscape holds an intrinsic socioeconomic value to those who live there. As such, the notion of simply planting another generation of industrially redundant grass seed into that now wholly nutritionally replenished top soil has about as much economic value as covering the municipal parkway in front of homes with empty plastic bottles of pure mountain spring water. As neither the grass or the plastic bottles of empty mountain spring water have anything whatsoever to do with the potential to introduce a rather dynamic array of plantings common to the original agricultural lineage of those who live in Flint, transforming not only the municipal parkway but the gardens of private homeowners into the outdoor habitats of their original cultural heritage most certainly does.
Step # 17 – Go home, take a shower and enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by.
Mike Patrick Dahlke
Please take the time to visit some of my other essays.