Infrastructure bill comes amid all-time high distrust of water

By: Staff,  A&S Communications
Tue, 11/16/2021

President Biden is expected to sign a $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Monday that will funnel money to a wide range of infrastructure initiatives including transportation, climate resilience, internet connectivity and water — an area long-neglected and where there is deep distrust.

Jerel Ezell, assistant professor of Africana studies, is an expert in health disparities and social inequality in post-industrial communities. Ezell has worked on city infrastructure challenges in Flint, Michigan and says that President Biden’s infrastructure bill comes amid all-time high distrust of natural resources, such as water.

“Americans' distrust of public infrastructure and natural resources, such as water, is at an all-time high, making passage of President Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill very timely," said Ezell. "However, public health disasters like the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which began in April 2014 when the city's water supply became contaminated with lead and other harmful chemicals and bacteria, punctuate the need to address infrastructure and patterns of distrust.

“In cities throughout the country — particularly racial or ethnic minority and lower-income communities — many individuals routinely avoid tap water, which they deem as unsafe and of poor quality, in favor of bottled water and sugary drinks. Investments in water processing and management infrastructure is often an overlooked dynamic in discussions of infrastructure and urban planning but are absolutely critical to improving our nation's water quality and consumer's faith," Ezell said.

“Porous infrastructure can lead to sewage overflows, which can cause bacteria and industrial chemicals to end up in water. In the past decade, as heavy precipitation and extreme weather events has increased throughout the country, these overflows have dramatically increase. This makes having resilient water infrastructure systems critical,” said Ezell.

For media inquiries, contact Rachel Rhodes, 585-732-1877,
rer252@cornell.edu.
 
 


  Dark-skinned person cupping hands under a stream of water.