Militant Journalism

The horrible water in Goodwater, Alabama

Editor: This first person report exposes the water crisis of the small, working class town of Goodwater, Al. 

I am 37 years old, and throughout my life I lived in a small town of less than 1,500 people called Goodwater. Located in central Alabama, the town is 74 percent Black and 24 percent white according to the 2010 Census. Similar to its name, Goodwater actually was in possession of “good water” for its citizens to drink, bathe, shower, and to wash their clothes and dishes in. Then things took a turn for the worse as the powers that be that run the town (with no consultation with its citizens) began to dig ditches and install water pipes that stretched from Goodwater all the way to the U.S. Highway 280.

These pipes diverted the water supply of Goodwater from the natural fresh water of nearby Hatchett Creek to an unknown location. I was 17 years old when this change took place and our water had become undrinkable. I remember standing at our sink one day about to get a glass of water from the faucet only to see that the water that came out was white and foaming. The hot water was worse as it was brown and gritty as if I had gone outside and dunked my cup in a mud puddle. Nevertheless, no matter how much bottled water we bought we could not avoid other tasks of everyday living that required the use of our water. 

Whenever we showered, washed our clothes, dishes, or mopped the floor we had to engage with the horrible water that was supplied out of the faucets. Through word of mouth, everyone in town was aware of the water catastrophe. They felt then and still feel now that we are powerless to improve this situation. The fact that the mayor of the town for over 30 years worked in the factory of the only millionaire in Goodwater and how that connects to our water situation can only be speculated upon right now by the citizens of Goodwater. In fact, the only article that I could find referencing our situation online was a 2019 article for a water filtration company that was promoting its product. Given the size of our town it is perhaps not surprising that our water disaster did not get a lot of media attention which is why I was riveted by the national news regarding Flint, Michigan. 

Personally, I watched the water crisis that developed nationally in Flint, Michigan with a disquieting sense of déjà vu. This was a Goodwater disaster but on a much larger scale. When President Obama went to Flint and drank (or pretended to as I suspect) a sip of their poisoned water and declared it safe to drink I was sick to my stomach. Of course Flint’s water is just as poisoned today as it was then, just like the water in East Chicago, Indiana and countless other places in this the supposed greatest country on the planet.

Looking forward, I hope the poor and working class people of this country are able to mount enough of a challenge to regain our access to clean water and a myriad of other human rights that have been taken away from us. The water protectors at Standing Rock showed us that this fight is one of the most essential of our lives and that we are more powerful together as a combined socialist force for change. Consequently, the fight for socialism with its unrelenting emphasis on human rights is the only way forward for the people to guarantee access to things that we used to take for granted, like clean water.

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