"Detroit, Michigan -- Around the world, a battle is escalating concerning one of our most precious natural resources. Even communities close to the Great Lakes may not be able to rely on steady and affordable water access. Residents of Highland Park, Michigan can attest to this unsettling reality. Highland Park is known as the birthplace of the assembly line. It is also a city where its residents have received excessively high water bills; they have had their water turned off and have struggled to keep their water from becoming privatized. The Water Front follows a local water struggle from various angles; city officials challenge to generate revenue to maintain water infrastructure; the municipal water worker’s perspective of working in an under-funded and stressful environment; and finally one woman’s struggle to organize a grassroots campaign to keep her home and defend affordable water as a basic human right.
On the heals of a successful film tour to forty cities and universities around the Great Lakes region and numerous international screenings, The Water Front makes its U.S. television broadcast debut on Detroit Public Television-WTVS Channel 56 on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at 9:00 pm.
“The Water Front is about water, but it also touches on the very essence of our democratic system,” said Liz Miller, the film’s director. “The film presents a community in crisis but it also presents the powerful enactment of local participation in finding solutions to the problems of our times.”
“The story of the citizens of Highland Park and their struggle for water access is one that should never have to be told in America,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch, a sponsor of the film’s Great Lakes city tour. “In reality, though, it is repeated in cities across the country. As infrastructure crumbles and communities find themselves unable to fund necessary fixes, more and more cities and towns are turning to privatization …As regular people pay more and more for their water without ever seeing an improvement, the question of who controls their water—and how—is ever more relevant. The Water Front will show citizens who face similar problems that they are not alone, and will inspire people to organize, taking control of local water back into local hands.”
"Water is the liquid gold of the 21st century. While corporations urge local governments to privatize municipal water, communities around the world are organizing to ensure affordable access to this life sustaining resource. THE WATER FRONT is the story of one community's determination to fight the seemingly inevitable path of water privatization.
Highland Park, Michigan – the birthplace of mass production is a post-industrial city on the verge of financial collapse. The state of Michigan has appointed an Emergency Financial Manager to fix the crisis. The Manager sees the water plant, which Ford built in 1917 to support his auto industry, as key to economic recovery. She has raised water rates and has implemented severe measures to collect on bills. As a result, Highland Park residents have received water bills as high as $10,000, they have had their water turned off, their homes foreclosed, and are struggling to keep water, a basic human right, from becoming privatized. THE WATER FRONT follows the personal story of Vallory Johnson, who transforms her anger into an emotional grassroots campaign, defending affordable water as a human right.
THE WATER FRONT is not just about water, but touches on the very essence of our democratic system. The film presents a community in crisis but it also presents the powerful enactment of local participation in finding solutions to the problems of our times.
This community portrait is also an unnerving indication of what is in store for residents around the world as cities look to update water systems and face increasingly complex issues such as water shortages and implications of the bottled water industry.
The film raises questions such as; Who determines the future of shared public resources? What are alternatives to water privatization? How will we maintain our public water systems and who can we hold accountable?"
I watched this documentary yesterday and it boiled my blood. I was literally screaming at the TV whenever I saw the outsiders hired in to "find" a solution to the city's financial crisis. One of the council members bald-faced lied on camera, in front of a large number of residents, that aside from the privatizing option, no other plan had been set forth. I cheered when Ms. Valery Johnson called BS, since the community had already given all the council members and the hired "Manager" copies of their option. Fortunately, the story ends well, the council voted down the privatization option and gave the boot to the Manager and her "advisers" who were making $250,000 a year each. One of those advisers made my jaw drop when she said "Well, people pay more for Movie theater tickets and services, nowadays, why not water?"
The amount of ponerized doublethink and ideology was very blatant on the part of the Manager and her advisers. The water service employees and the community broke my heart, they had many good ideas and it was like a brick wall, nothing from the higher-ups in the local government.