Detroit has suspended its aggressive shut-off policy for customers with unpaid water bills, and not before time. I understand that services, including water has to be paid for but cutting off the water supply of thousand of people in a single city is asking for serious medical trouble.
Each year some 400 people in the US are treated for typhoid fever, most have contracted it whilst travelling to the developing world. Although a severely debilitating disease, deaths listing typhoid as the cause are rare in the United States. Most will survive due to good nutrition, a return to clean drinking water and prompt medical attention. Remove any of these things and typhoid could quite easily get a foothold in the southern states. It is highly contagious and easily passed from person to person.
Typhoid is only one of many diseases that are spread due to unsanitary conditions and contaminated water supply.
The implications for a reduction in the amount of people who have adequate supplies of clean drinking water and reliable sewerage systems extends way beyond a city like Detroit trying to rake back every dollar it can to impress the bankruptcy courts.
It’s not just those who are made homeless who are at risk. ANYONE without adequate access to clean fresh water for drinking, cooking and basic personal hygiene is at risk, and those with a water supply are at risk from those who don’t have one.
What is known about living conditions where adequate water is not available is that such conditions are an open invitation for disease. Lots of diseases.
Typhoid has been used as an example, but that is just one of many diseases that routinely surfaces during economic downturns, after natural disasters and in times of war. History is full of such events. Typhoid, typhus, cholera, dysentery, intestinal worms, hepatitis, gastroenteritis and many, many more all arise from contaminated water and/or lack of adequate sewerage.
Its hard to believe that this is happening in the First World in the twenty-first century, but it is. It needs to stop and it needs to stop now before many lives are lost to conditions that are rarely seen outside of the developing nations.
Those responsible for the unholy mess that is insidiously enveloping the United States, Europe and the UK should hang their heads in shame. That many cannot afford to pay their water bill is a danger to us all, rich and poor.
It’s a sad indication at how woefully inadequate our so called leaders are. How far removed they are from the plight of ordinary families trying to live their lives is blatant. The provision of clean, safe drinking water and adequate sewerage should not be for the wealthy alone. The same men and women who are sending billions in aid to developing nations to help ensure that the people have clean safe water are allowing their own people to live without it.
When typhoid, cholera, hepatitis and the rest are running rampant we will all know who to blame.
Many parts of the United States are currently experiencing drought conditions that show no sign of letting up. These diseases don’t give a damn what the cause of the water shortage is. If inadequate sanitation occurs, for whatever reason there will be a resurgence of diseases that were long ago banished from our shores.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.