Is Water The New Enron? — Fake Crises, Fake Bills, And Fake Solutions

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Rev. Edward Pinkney

Rev. Edward Pinkney

In places like Ben­ton Har­bor, Michi­gan and Detroit, there is some­thing called the emer­gency man­ag­er, which essen­tial­ly is a local dic­ta­tor. He can depose the may­or and offer decrees and answer to no one except the gov­er­nor. In these two cities and oth­ers, because they are lack­ing tax rev­enue (because of lack of indus­try) they are jack­ing up the water rates as much as 40%. … One of the peo­ple who was lead­ing the charge against this stuff was recent­ly con­vict­ed in a kan­ga­roo court in Ben­ton Har­bor and is now fac­ing 20 years in prison. He is Rev­erend Pinkney.” — Bran­don Turbeville

Lit­tle bit­ty Ben­ton Har­bor was the test­ing ground. It was the test­ing ground to see what they can get away with. …It’s comin’ to your city next, whether you like it or not.
- Rev. Edward Pinkney

Read­ers may remem­ber my past arti­cle deal­ing with the appar­ent cor­rup­tion regard­ing water rates in places like Dekalb Coun­ty, Geor­gia. Elec­tric­i­ty, Gas, Water. It’s cru­cial that peo­ple be aware that they are not safe from those pro­vid­ing these ser­vices and neces­si­ties. They should know that their “gov­ern­ment” can even move to take water from them.

But Dekalb Coun­ty is not the only place in the Unit­ed States where water rates and the restric­tion of access to water has become a sig­nif­i­cant issue. As the quotes above demon­strate, Ben­ton Har­bor, Michi­gan appears to be ground zero in the bat­tle for access to water.

Rev­erend Pinkney had been, up until his recent con­vic­tion, lead­ing the charge for the peo­ple of Ben­ton Har­bor. As the World Aus­ter­i­ty Report writes,

For years Rev­erend Edward Pinkney has been fight­ing the slow move to takeover, pri­va­tize, loot, and gen­tri­fy Ben­ton Har­bor. He has been fight­ing not only for the sur­vival of his own city as well as Michi­gan state, but for his per­son­al freedom.

Since 2003, Rev. Pinkney has endured prej­u­dice by white juries and lawyers, been fined, jailed, released, put on pro­ba­tion, fined for exer­cis­ing his first amend­ment rights, and jailed again. More recent­ly, in true David and Goliath fash­ion, Rev. Pinkney had suc­cess­ful­ly gath­ered suf­fi­cient peti­tions to force a recall elec­tion of May­or James High­tow­er. Pinkney warned that High­tow­er would use all his resources (Whirlpool Cor­po­ra­tion, Sher­iff Bai­ley, pros­e­cu­tor Mike Sepic, and Coun­ty Clerk Sharon Tyler, to name a few) against Rev. Pinkney. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the law means very lit­tle to those who wish to pri­va­tize and asset strip pub­lic util­i­ties, schools, roads, and even government.

Ben­ton Har­bor as well as Detroit and oth­er cities with Emer­gency Man­agers have seen the pri­va­ti­za­tion of pub­lic schools, parks, and util­i­ties. The takeover has now shift­ed into a form what can only be under­stood as geno­ci­dal: the shut­ting off of water to its own cit­i­zens, as is cur­rent­ly hap­pen­ing in Detroit. [Empha­sis added.] 

But “emer­gency man­agers” are not the only way to take water from peo­ple or charge them for­tunes they can’t pay.

In Geor­gia, the tech­nique is some­what more sub­tle. There, water providers do not jack up the rates since doing so would cause a pub­lic out­cry and protest. Instead, they send out water bills that are fic­ti­tious and that have no basis in actu­al water usage — bills as high or high­er than 10 times more than the nor­mal rate, often reach­ing the amount of three to six thou­sand dol­lars. When cus­tomers call to com­plain, the water board­’s phone sys­tem con­ve­nient­ly does­n’t work and they end up reach­ing no one. And when they call the office of the CEO of the coun­ty, as peo­ple have been doing at the rate of near­ly 50 calls per day for months, noth­ing hap­pens. Let­ters of com­plaint go unanswered.

For those who may not ful­ly under­stand the nature of the “Dekalb Coun­ty Water Scam,” I encour­age you to read my past arti­cle “Is Dekalb Coun­ty Geor­gia Gov­ern­ment Run­ning An Immense Finan­cial Scam?

In my arti­cle, I pre­sent­ed a sam­ple of a num­ber of com­plaints that typ­i­fy the types of com­ments found regard­ing the water rates in Dekalb Coun­ty. In the time since that arti­cle, the com­plaints have con­tin­ued to roll in as can be seen from read­ing the reviews of Dekalb Coun­ty Water and Sew­er.

A sam­ple of these reviews are as follows:

Trudy R.
28 days ago
I live alone in the last few months my bill has been between $200–400 for a sin­gle house­hold, I have paid some­one to check to see if there’s a leak unseen, no leak — I’m wait­ing & hop­ing the coun­ty will see their errors, cor­rect it & refund based on their mistakes

Clarice B.
2 months ago
My water bill has dou­bled since my last bill. I know it is incor­rect because I had to shut off the water from the out­side because I was hav­ing work done inside my house. I also turn off my water vale in my bath room when I am not home. I think they are just gues­ta­mat­ing the meter read­ing and not actu­al­ly com­ing out to read. Right now I would give Dekalb Coun­ty Water & Sew­er a grade of F

Rosa S.
8 months ago
Hor­ri­ble Cus­tomer Ser­vice! After two billings of astro­nom­i­cal water bills I con­tact­ed DeKalb Coun­ty Water & Sew­er to come out and check my meter for a leaks. We cor­rect­ed the prob­lem and then went to the office to request an adjust­ment on our bill. We fol­lowed all the steps. I’ve made sev­er­al attempts for the last 2 weeks to con­tact them to no avail. since their ENHANCED AUTOMATED TELEPHONE SYSTEM just takes you through the horse and pony show to tell you that all the agents are busy and to try your call at a lat­er time. Real­ly!? It does­n’t mat­ter the time of day you call.… it’s always the same. I have resort­ed to email­ing. As a res­i­dence of Dekalb Coun­ty. I am very dis­ap­point­ed with the ser­vices ren­dered while you are empt­ing my purse!

Bill Tyor
over a year ago
No num­ber to call in out­age – We have a water out­age in our neigh­bor­hood and there is no num­ber to call, as far as I know, to report it.

Ter­ry R over a year ago
BILLING Is Just Incom­pe­tent with NO Fol­low through !! – I have had no less than 5 incor­rect water bills from the util­i­ty. Some were in over $700.00 in a billing cycle.

Each occurence they have read the meter and agreed it was an incor­rect reading.

would you not think that the meter read­er who was incom­pe­tent caus­ing this many prob­lems would be ter­mi­nat­ed and or reassingned.

My last months bill indi­cat­ed over 9,000 gal­lons. Single

house­hold. Low flow toi­lets. They agreed to check the read­ings and call me back.

The next thing I will get is a ter­mi­na­tion notice.

What else can I do raise this valid con­cern for over a year.

In the case of Rev­erend Pinkney, are the Pow­ers That Be com­ing down so hard on him because of what he might uncov­er and not just because of his protest­ing? Such was the case for Kevin Annett who was forced out of the Unit­ed Church in Cana­da when he start­ed look­ing into deaths in Catholic and Angli­can res­i­den­tial schools for chil­dren of First Nation peo­ple. He uncov­ered geno­cide and was pun­ished for his dis­cov­er­ies. He has since uncov­ered that many of the same things and worse are still going on there. This video explains “worse.”

So what is Pinkney expos­ing to deserve this treatment?

A mere search engine term of “water bills dou­ble” brings up a myr­i­ad of results from all across the coun­try regard­ing the dou­bling of water bills in places as far apart as St. Louis, Mor­ri­son, OK, St. Bernard Par­rish, LA, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Mary­land, Chica­go, and many oth­er cities and states.

A quick search of the terms “astro­nom­i­cal water bills” like­wise reveals that many parts of the coun­try do not need their water bills to dou­ble offi­cial­ly in order for them to be out­ra­geous­ly expen­sive. In fact, the reports sur­round­ing many of the sky­rock­et­ing water bills in many of the cities such as Seat­tle and Chester­field, VA are odd­ly famil­iar to the reports sur­round­ing the mys­te­ri­ous­ly sky­rock­et­ing water bills in Dekalb County.

For instance, as Kel­ly Avel­li­no writes for NBC12,

Angry Chester­field home­own­ers are call­ing NBC12, after get­ting astro­nom­i­cal water bills.

Ed Brooks, a res­i­dent in the Riv­er Downs neigh­bor­hood, says the water bill for his home is typ­i­cal­ly about a hun­dred dol­lars a month. How­ev­er, his bill this month was more than $1,100.

I got a bad case of stick­er shock when I opened it up and saw it was $1,100,” said Brooks.

Brooks is just one of a slew of neigh­bors in Chester­field report­ing sky­rock­et­ing water bills, right now. The Riv­er Downs neigh­bor­hood Face­book page shows one neigh­bor post­ing after anoth­er about his­tor­i­cal­ly high water bills.

It is baf­fling,” said Anne Far­rell, also of Riv­er Downs.

Far­rel­l’s bill for August went up more than $170 dol­lars from the same time, the pre­vi­ous year. The bill shows that Far­rel­l’s water usage alleged­ly doubled.

I know we did­n’t do any­thing dif­fer­ent­ly. I know we did­n’t have a leak. I know we did­n’t have any cir­cum­stances that the bill would go up that much,” said Farrell.

Lau­ren Nel­son, anoth­er res­i­dent, says her fam­i­ly cut back on water usage, nix­ing back­yard water slides and only turn­ing on the sprin­klers periodically.

Our bill last year was $123. This year… over $310,” said Nelson.

Yet, while the Amer­i­can peo­ple are being charged gross­ly high and even invent­ed amounts for water, in Cal­i­for­nia and across the coun­try, Nes­tle and Arrow­head are using mas­sive amounts water, vir­tu­al­ly for free.

As Katie Rucke reports for Mint Press News,

As Cal­i­for­ni­ans strug­gle with the extreme drought grip­ping the entire state and work to pre­serve the pre­cious resource by imple­ment­ing bans and restric­tions regard­ing its use, a major food sup­pli­er has been tak­ing water from a par­tic­u­lar­ly parched part of the state and bot­tling it.

Since 2002, Nes­tle has had a deal with the Moron­go Band of Mis­sion Indi­ans that allows the food giant to pump water from the Mil­lard Canyon aquifer locat­ed on the tribe’s reser­va­tion, bot­tle it and sell it under the company’s Arrow­head and Pure Life water brands.

How much Nes­tle, the country’s largest bot­tled water com­pa­ny, paid the Moron­go tribe for the rights to the water sup­ply is not known, as the con­tract between the bot­tled water sup­pli­er and the tribe is not required to be disclosed.

The state has enact­ed severe restric­tions regard­ing water use, aim­ing to con­serve enough water for about 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple, or about 9 per­cent of the state’s pop­u­la­tion, but because the water plant is locat­ed on the Moron­go Band of Mis­sion Indi­ans’ reser­va­tion, local water agen­cies do not have any con­trol over the water plant.

Nes­tle also doesn’t have to report how much water it takes from the water basin because of the plant’s loca­tion on the reser­va­tion. Many say this is a point of con­cern, espe­cial­ly since water is a lim­it­ed resource in the state.

Ian James of The Desert Sun also report­ed on Nestle’s use of much-need­ed water sup­plies. He wrote,

The plant, locat­ed on the Moron­go Band of Mis­sion Indi­ans’ reser­va­tion, has been draw­ing water from wells along­side a spring in Mil­lard Canyon for more than a decade. But as Cal­i­for­ni­a’s drought deep­ens, some peo­ple in the area ques­tion how much water the plant is bot­tling and whether it’s right to sell water for prof­it in a desert region where springs are rare and under­ground aquifers have been declining.

Why is it pos­si­ble to take water from a drought area, bot­tle it and sell it?” asked Lin­da Ivey, a Palm Desert real estate apprais­er who said she won­ders about the plan­t’s use of water every time she dri­ves past it on Inter­state 10.

It’s hard to know how much is being tak­en,” Ivey said. “We’ve got to pro­tect what lit­tle water sup­ply we have.”

Over the years, the Moron­go tribe has clashed with one local water dis­trict over the bot­tling oper­a­tion, and has tried to fend off a long-run­ning attempt by state offi­cials to revoke a license for a por­tion of the water rights. Those dis­putes, how­ev­er, don’t seem to have put a dent in an oper­a­tion that brings the Moron­go undis­closed amounts of income through an agree­ment with the largest bot­tled water com­pa­ny in the Unit­ed States.

The plant is oper­at­ed by Nes­tle Waters North Amer­i­ca Inc., which leas­es the prop­er­ty from the tribe and uses it to pack­age Arrow­head spring water as well as puri­fied water sold under the brand Nes­tle Pure Life.

The Desert Sun has repeat­ed­ly asked the com­pa­ny for a tour of the bot­tling plant since last year, but those requests have not been grant­ed. The com­pa­ny and the Moron­go tribe also did not respond to requests for infor­ma­tion about the amounts of water bot­tled each year.

Until 2009, Nes­tle Waters sub­mit­ted annu­al reports to a group of local water dis­tricts show­ing how much ground­wa­ter was being extract­ed from the spring in Mil­lard Canyon. Reports com­piled by the San Gor­gonio Pass Water Agency show that the amounts drawn from two wells in the canyon var­ied from a high of 1,366 acre-feet in 2002 to a low of 595 acre-feet in 2005. In 2009, Nes­tle Waters report­ed 757 acre-feet pumped from the wells dur­ing the pre­vi­ous year.

Even in Cana­da, Nes­tle is allowed to absorb the bulk of water resources in some locales for com­mer­cial pur­pos­es why the peo­ple who depend on those resources for drink­ing water are giv­en the shaft. For instance, Welling­ton Water Watch­ers, an orga­ni­za­tion that was opposed to Nestle’s unfet­tered access to local drink­ing water sup­plies reported.

Despite no data on how drought or cli­mate change will affect Guelph’s water sup­ply in years to come, Nestlé Waters of Aber­foyle has filed for an unprece­dent­ed 10-year provin­cial per­mit to take up to 3.6 mil­lion litres of water per day from the Grand Riv­er watershed.

In our Grand Riv­er water­shed, we are much more depen­dent on ground­wa­ter for our source of drink­ing water than most oth­er places in Ontario, maybe most oth­er places in Cana­da, with the excep­tion of Prince Edward Island,” Hueniken points out.

Guelph is 85 to 90 per­cent depen­dent on ground­wa­ter as the source of drink­ing water, Hueniken says, mak­ing this a local issue that is unique in Cana­da. “We could build a pipeline to the Great Lakes, but the qual­i­ty of the water from a deep aquifer like ours, the Ama­bel, is so much bet­ter than sur­face water from the Great Lakes, that it just seems a shame to let Nestlé take this pure nat­ur­al resource, bot­tle it and ship it out­side of the water­shed day after day.”

Stop­ping this life-threat­en­ing crime is going to take a huge pub­lic expo­sure cam­paign. It will take more than a few lone voic­es cry­ing in the wilderness.

The Irish are not only wak­ing up. They are protest­ing and refus­ing to pay. They see water as a human right.

In the absence of wide­spread aware­ness about the issue here in the Unit­ed States, how­ev­er, it might help to revis­it the Enron scams in order to under­stand and jog the mem­o­ries of the Amer­i­can peo­ple so that they can under­stand what may be hap­pen­ing here. Remem­ber, Enron, while involved in many dif­fer­ent scams, was also involved in the cre­ation of a false short­age of elec­tric pow­er and sub­se­quent­ly raised rates under the pre­tense of stop­ping “brown outs” that Enron itself cre­at­ed. The results were that many vic­tims end­ed up com­mit­ting sui­cide, often because their busi­ness­es were destroyed as a result of the scams.

Water is also an actu­al phys­i­cal enti­ty, so the tech­nique used to bilk peo­ple around it might be more dif­fi­cult but it is cer­tain­ly pos­si­ble to do it.

In the US, the “Pow­er Over Water” folks seemed to have tak­en a page from Enron in two ways. First, cre­ate the impres­sion of a water cri­sis and then invent, invent, invent. It’s more sly than what hap­pened with Bech­tel in Bolivia where it was a math­e­mat­i­cal­ly vis­i­ble issue of “rates” and Bechtel’s state­ments did not match up with either the truth or its oth­er statements.

But in the US, peo­ple are being charged a for­tune for water with­out chang­ing the rates. The bills are total inven­tions. They are com­plete scams.

And where is the data on who and how many peo­ple are being skunked? It’s read­ing this arti­cle. You are that infor­ma­tion! You are the evi­dence. And all the infor­ma­tion you can gath­er is evi­dence need­ed to stop these criminals.

The real­i­ty is peo­ple are trapped in an enor­mous crim­i­nal scam by their own gov­ern­ments.

Bills can be 10 or 20 times high­er than nor­mal. The water board sim­ply does­n’t answer the phone, but the bills keep com­ing and then the water is cut off. Those con­trol­ling water have set up a sys­tem in which there is no pub­lic notice of rate changes, there is no rela­tion between water usage and charges, and for each iso­lat­ed indi­vid­ual with no knowl­edge of how many peo­ple who are being affect­ed or any way to reach oth­ers in the same boat, there is no recourse.

It’s Enron again — faked cri­sis fol­lowed by fake bills — only now more stealth­ily done than things were done in Bolivia, but still around a life or death resource: water.

Peo­ple in every state need to inves­ti­gate the water charges in their area. To be clear — they need to inves­ti­gate the charges, not the rates which are post­ed. The bills peo­ple are receiv­ing may have no cor­re­la­tion to the water they are using.

Smart meters can offer a means to make it appear that a cer­tain amount of water was used even though it was not. Remem­ber, Skilling’s dar­ling and the bankers’ dar­ling — dig­i­tal infor­ma­tion, can be eas­i­ly rigged.

Amer­i­cans are not sup­posed to know that dras­ti­cal­ly inflat­ed water bills are being charged every­where. With­out that knowl­edge, they are alone in the scam. With it, they can see the whole coun­try is being ripped off. Iso­lat­ing peo­ple with their own crush­ing water bill — pub­li­cized rates unchanged — is just more case of slip­ping some­thing past the “stu­pid Amer­i­cans.” The real­i­ty, how­ev­er, is that we are being lied to.