Memphis’ Water Example – How Not To Do It

Citations throughout my blog and worldwide for that matter, document just how economically powerful water infrastructure is. Water.Org describes that every dollar of investment in infrastructure results in 4 dollars of economic benefit. Logically, new infrastructure means new jobs, new tax revenue, and new businesses coming to take advantage of the water bounty.

Once again, enter my hometown Memphis as a perfect example of how to behave irresponsibly and foolishly. Three years ago, then Mayor A.C. Wharton created something called the Blue Stream Task Force; a think-tank designed to pave the way for responsible water planning and management. I was brought in as a co-chair to stimulate water-related economic development. During those presentations the case was made for new infrastructure both to the water and waste-water treatment plants. Sadly, the new Mayor, Jim Strickland has turned a blind eye to water issues, and as a result is about to reap the barren crop of the fields he refused to sow.

It was recently reported that the Memphis waste-water treatment plant is critically close to its maximum capacity. In response, the divine “wisdom” of  mayor Strickland is a new policy that prohibits any new businesses outside the city from tapping into the sewer system. If creating an atmosphere to drive economic development away from a city was the goal, this mayor has achieved it. The mayor’s belief seems to be, that instead of encouraging new business in the suburbs, prohibiting them from tying into the sewer system will motivate them to locate inside the city limits. Now, this might be logical if we ignored some important facts:

  • Memphis is suffering mass exodus of taxpayers due to the area being one of the most violent, lawless, and murderous locations in the US
  • Memphis just became the #1 US city for poverty
  • The inner city workforce is considered, even by its own Chamber of Commerce, to be detrimental to attracting new business.

So, as if these things were not bad enough, the mayor has also deliberately fallen way behind the curve regarding water resources, and apparently will cause the city to spend $ millions defending this “logic” against lawsuits from the county. Progressive leadership this is not!

I have said this many times, and will continue to do so. Water is the single most powerful economic tool in all of creation. There is an overflowing abundance of technology to capitalize on this opportunity. What the world lacks is visionary leaders who care more about the long-term welfare of the people and less about getting elected. Every community in the US can benefit economically through proper water planning. Memphis is a glaring example of how to bring on one’s own economic demise.

I urge everyone to get involved with their water and wastewater resources. Assess what you have and begin planning for the future. Demand that local leaders become proactive and progressive. Do so now, and your community will thrive in tomorrow’s economy.

Don’t be like Memphis.