Holding the Government Accountable

Erin Brockovich Takes Stand for Water Dept. Transparency

The Flint Water Crisis opened the flood gates of media attention to local water safety and the management of water departments across the United States.

In a new opinion editorial in The Guardian, environmental advocate Erin Brockovich identifies Flint, Michigan, as just one part of the larger systemic problem of mishandling government funds. According to Brockovich, this problem is rooted in a lack of transparency of municipal, state, and federal water departments.

Brockovich, known for her work in anti-pollution lawsuits as a law clerk and activist, famously helped win a case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company in 1993: the company was found guilty of groundwater contamination in Hinkley, California.

Brockovich joined the Project On Government Oversight two years ago in a rally near the Supreme Court to support civilians and Marines poisoned by contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. POGO’s rally supported the right of victims to sue for being exposed to the pollution, which the government had tried to cover up instead of fix.

History stands to repeat itself unless we impose greater oversight of government agencies. Brockovich restates in her article that government agencies, such as water departments, benefit from covering up or understating issues instead of reporting them. This can be a fatal misstep for the well-being of the general public.

To offset the increase of redactions of municipal water reports and other publicly available information, Brockovich promotes political activism in local communities:

Things will only improve when the people—all of us—say to authorities: I will hold you responsible. We should all be showing up at city council meetings, lighting up every community with activism and mobilization.

You can read Brockovich’s op-ed on The Guardian'swebsite.