How to Predict the next Flint?
In the last blog we talked about Flint’s water quality problem being brought on by a political/financial decision, not a public health decision. Well, the news get worse. Flint’s deteriorated water system is a money thing as well – the community has a lot of poverty and high water bills, so they can’t pay for improvements. They are not alone. Utilities all over the country have increasing incidents of breaks, and age related problems. So the real question then is who are the at risk utilities? Who is the next Flint? It would be an interesting exercise to see if a means could be developed to identify those utilities at risk for future crises, so we can monitor them in more detail as a means to avoid such crises.
So what would be the measures that might identify the future “Flint?” These could be things like age of the system, materials used, economic activity trends, income, poverty rate, unemployment rate, utility size, reserves, utility rates, history of rate increases, etc.? Could these be developed into a means to evaluate risk? If so, who would use it and how would we address the high risk cases? I suggest that lenders have means to evaluate this using many of these same measures, but from a risk of events, this method has not been applied. So I think this would be a useful research project. So if anyone has some ideas, time or ideas for funding, let me know. Let’s get rolling!