A Tale of Two Cities tells the story of two very different Michigan communities—picturesque, small town Evart and gritty, industrial Flint— who have found their futures inextricably linked by a threat to the one thing that all life requires: water.
The film explores the growing threat of water privatization and what happens when the government runs a critical function, like providing clean drinking water, as if it were a business.
After years of progressively damaging cost-cutting measures that favor corporate interests throughout the state of Michigan, Flint's water crisis made international news. Four years later, many still rely on bottled water for their everyday needs and have some of the highest water rates in the country.
Despite the state's failure to protect its people's access to water in Flint -- and its intentional deprivation of water to thousands in Detroit -- the multinational corporation Nestlé nets massive profits from of the state's abundant water sources. Nestle pumps mere hours away from Flint, outside of Evart, paying only a $200 annual permit fee and nothing for the water itself.
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“Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For” Bloomberg Businessweek
The company’s operation in Michigan reveals how it’s dominated the industry by going into economically depressed areas with lax water laws.
“Nestlé pays $200 a year to bottle water near Flint – where water is undrinkable” The Guardian
While Flint battles a water crisis, just two hours away the beverage giant pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles.
“Neoliberalism’s Deadly Experiment” Jacobin
In Michigan, privatization and free-market governance has left 100,000 people without water.
“Michigan’s new water battle: How much of it should Nestle bottle?” The Christian Science Monitor
The company says pumping more groundwater won’t hurt the environment. But public opposition is significant, amplified in part by the Flint crisis. https://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2017/0531/Michigan-s-new-water-battle-How-much-of-it-should-Nestle-bottle
“The State of Public Water in the United States” Food & Water Watch (pdf)
Food & Water Watch also conducted a comprehensive survey of the water rates of the 500 largest U.S. community water systems and found that large for-profit privately owned systems charged 59 percent more than large publicly owned systems.
“Events that led to Flint’s water crisis” The New York Times
“In Detroit, Nestle holds private roundtable on future of water” MLive
“Town appeals Nestle water pump plans in west Michigan” The Detroit News
“Flint water crisis criminal prosecutions: Where things stand now” Michigan Radio
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