For generations, the water infrastructure beneath this southern Alabama city was corroding, cracking and failing — out of sight and seemingly out of mind — as the population shrank and poverty rose. Until it became impossible to ignore.

Last year residents learned a startling truth: Prichard loses over half, sometimes more than 60%, of the drinking water it buys from nearby Mobile, according to a state environmental report that said “the state of disrepair of Prichard’s water lines cannot be overstated.” Residents and experts say it also imposes a crippling financial burden on one of the state’s poorest cities, where more than 30% live in poverty.

“It’s a heartbreaking situation,” said community activist Carletta Davis, recounting how residents have been shocked by monthly water bills totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars. “I see people struggling with whether or not they have to pay their water bills or whether or not they can buy food or whether or not they can get their medicine.”

  • @[email protected]
    link
    fedilink
    English
    302 months ago

    Everything about this story is unacceptable. Everyone should have free and clean drinking water.

    But, as soon as the government gives people one of the two most important elements to sustain human life (besides air), then corporations have less reason to turn fossil fuel into (forever)plastic bottles and charge you for their tap water. No one should own water.

    I swear, it’s only a matter of time before Perri-Air becomes a real thing.

    • BombOmOm
      link
      fedilink
      English
      42 months ago

      Desalination is going to become much more common. One of the main drawbacks is the high power requirements, but, that is increasingly less and less of an issue as we expand the power grid.

      • Flying Squid
        link
        fedilink
        122 months ago

        A much bigger drawback is that it creates a huge amount of toxic brine. You can’t put it back in the ocean and increase ocean salinity because that would be an environmental disaster. You have to store it on land. Then you have the same issue as nuclear waste except far, far larger because it’s a lot more waste to find a place to store without it getting into the fresh water table or the ocean.

        • @[email protected]
          link
          fedilink
          English
          52 months ago

          You CAN put it back into the ocean, you just can’t do it at a single spot but have to spread it out so the local salinity doesn’t go too high. That’s simply a matter of building more output pipes, the only obstacle is cost.

        • @[email protected]
          link
          fedilink
          42 months ago

          Could we not use the left over salt for the food industry? I genuinely am curious I don’t know much about this stuff

          • @[email protected]
            link
            fedilink
            English
            32 months ago

            You could use some of it, but a desalination plant would produce way more salt than we’d need, by orders of magnitude

      • @girlfreddyOP
        link
        42 months ago

        And where are they going to dump all the salt? I mean that would be a shit ton of salt to get rid of.

        • BombOmOm
          link
          fedilink
          English
          62 months ago

          Generally it is re-mixed with seawater on-land and then distributed over a large area of sea.

          • @girlfreddyOP
            link
            32 months ago

            The problem is that California alone would be desalinating billions of gallons of seawater per month just to water all the crops … so way too much to just keep dumping it back into the sea. We’d be killing everything quicker.

              • Flying Squid
                link
                fedilink
                42 months ago

                In theory, you could also extract valuable minerals and metals from the salt, but you’d still have to get rid of the salt.

                • @[email protected]
                  link
                  fedilink
                  52 months ago

                  There won’t be a single catch all solution but if we can make it the goal to spread the use and disposal of any harmful byproducts then you’re turning one problem into the solution for many other issues.

                  Desalinating seawater creates toxic salt, toxic salt could be used on heavy metals to create batteries, salt could also be used to mine for heavy metals for batteries. One couldn’t dream up a best case scenario. If it wasn’t for the fact that it has to generate a profit and not take away from profit streams currently in place, we’d be living in a far better civilization.

              • @girlfreddyOP
                link
                32 months ago

                Those ideas sound like great solutions to more than a few issues!

            • @[email protected]
              link
              fedilink
              English
              42 months ago

              Cruise ships already drop about that much in raw sewage, 352 quintillion gallons makes it literally less than a drop in the bucket.