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Flint’s Water Saga, Or Why Water Mediation is “The Wire” of Mediation

The Wire was a TV show famous for following the drama of the city of Baltimore at all institutional levels: from the police to the school system, to government and administrators. In the real-life tragedy of Flint we see a sweeping drama of America’s water issues that lays bare just how many people come together over a common resource like water. The creators of The Wire have said they looked to the cities of Dickens, Balzac and Tolstoy rather than TV for inspiration.

Water Conflicts Involve Everyone

Mediation has already played an active role in two Flint legal conflicts. Various water authorities, the state, city emergency managers, residents, national civil liberties groups and even the town’s old industrial lifeblood General Motors have been among the players involved in the story, and a fair number of these have been thrown together in mediation. Just like in a Dickens novel, or in the Baltimore of The Wire, there is no way of absorbing the complex and tragic story of Flint without understanding that we are all connected by common resources like water. On a regular basis, water mediation deals with multiple parties at different levels of society and government to resolve conflicts over tight budgets, historical water rights and much more.

Mediation Paves the Way for Future Cooperation Over Water Resources

So far one lawsuit involving multiple plaintiffs suing the state to provide relief to Flint residents was settled through mediation and a second lawsuit was ordered to mediation when the state sued the city of Flint to get it to buy water from Detroit. The ongoing conflicts of Flint reflect the open secret of America’s water crisis: we still don’t how we will collectively pay for water in the future. America’s ageing infrastructure and the impact of climate change will require a huge investment. Current federal funds won’t cover it and, by 2020 one third of all households may not be able to afford water. Water mediation is a process that doesn’t just resolve individual conflicts but helps lay the co-operative financial and administrative groundwork for the conservation of common resources into the future. At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we see water conflicts as struggles to manage limited resources that can be resolved by a mathematical and psychological analysis of the interests involved. With backgrounds in the law and finance, we apply game theory and other principles to resolve complex interconnected conflicts. In every conflict there is an opportunity to work together and build something better. With so many people affected by America’s water crisis every water conflict potentially has far-reaching consequences. Mediating these conflicts is an opportunity to influence outcomes for the better. Please visit us at our offices in Campbell, CA, Boulder, CO and Irvine, CA or contact us via telephone, Skype or Zoom to see how we can help.

Read more on this topic:

https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2017/may/27/baltimore-15-years-after-the-wire
http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2017/03/flint_leaders_mum_after_settle.html
https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/5/9/15183330/america-water-crisis-affordability-millions

http://michiganradio.org/post/judge-orders-flint-and-deq-mediation-over-water

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