“Municipal Water Issues” Analyzing the Flint Water Crisis and comparing to Municipal Water Issues in Other Countries

“Municipal Water Issues” Analyzing the Flint Water Crisis and comparing to Municipal Water Issues in Other Countries

This module was funded by the CGS and developed for the Midwest Institute for International/Intercultural Education’s workshop, “Human Migrations, Global Networks and Leadership.”


Name: Cynthia M Veldt-Dietsch

College: Delta College

Discipline: Arts and Letters Department – English Division

Course Title and Number: RDG 097 Academic Reading – 3 credit hours

Module Title: “Municipal Water Issues” Analyzing the Flint Water Crisis and comparing to Municipal Water Issues in Other Countries

Narrative Description of the Module

Beginning with manageable readings about the Flint Water Crisis the class will expand the discussion of water by adding readings describing issues with the availability, or lack thereof, of safe, adequate water sources in communities in a variety of countries such as Mexico, Iraq, India, China, Indonesia, and South Africa, in addition to Sub Saharan African countries. The students will then make a comparison to water issues in a locality in which they are somewhat familiar (Flint, Michigan), to how water issues in localities are handled in foreign countries. Water use from natural sources will be discussed in addition to explanations of how water is treated in facilities for municipal use.

Educational Objectives of the Module

  1. Understand the value and scarcity of fresh, safe water in developing countries, in addition to our own country by use of discussion of the water cycle in nature, in addition to developing an understanding of how water is treated in municipalities.
  2. Make a comparison between two municipalities and how water is distributed and deemed safe for residents.
  3. Explain the differences in how water is treated and distributed in the United States as opposed to a municipality of a foreign country.

Outline of Lectures/Discussions Used to Implement the Module

Readings of a manageable level will be made available to students describing how a diverse number of cities around the world are having to deal with water issues. Brief videos and a possible demonstration about groundwater and river water is circulated are means for explaining how water is purified naturally and treated in treatments facilities for chemical contamination and bacteria from waste. As a group project, students will share information from their specific readings about the locality in which they are researching with the rest of the class, therefore acting as a experts to inform others about a specific city or locality. In addition to the presentation of research by organized groups, students will write a brief comparison of their assigned locality to the Flint Water Crisis. As a concluding reflective writing activity, students will express a personal understanding of the need for conserving water through their own personal lives and ways in which they could begin to do that. Students will be expected to understand that change can begin with those small actions and that their behavior and habits can make a difference. The module will be integrated into the course as 45 minute segments during the course of 4 weeks, dividing the course time between reading the other text and the module.

Class session #1 – Flint water crisis
Focus: Understanding of the Flint Water Crisis
Begin discussion with prior knowledge and experiences of students as possible residents of the Flint area. Play video describing the Flint Water Crisis. Read article provided, as a class, about the Flint Water Crisis, modeling critical reading skills, including highlighting, annotating, note taking, and summarizing article as assigned. Expand discussions to include prior experiences with water sources in Michigan to elicit prior knowledge.

Class session #2 – Water in the Environment
Focus: Understanding of water on the planet, especially in Michigan
Visit from MSU Extension Water Expert and/or video describing the water cycle and water treatment, discussion of clean water through rivers and lakes. Discussion of personal experiences with water and understanding of the need for clean water in the environment, for example potable vs non-potable water in campgrounds, water from pumps and rivers and potential dangers of each.

Class session #3 – Water in Other Countries
Focus: Issues with getting clean, suitable drinking water in other countries.
Elicit prior knowledge about water issues from around the world. Show videos about water issues from other countries and how those populations are dealing with municipal water issues. Assign groups with articles to read, annotate, and outline a water issue from a specific country or municipality.

Class session #4 – Assigning Groups for Water Project
Focus: Assign groups based on options posed or regional interest to work on group project. Groups are formed and assigned an article on a specific population, groups are to apply reading strategies, including highlighting, annotating, note taking and summarizing of specific article. Class enrollment can be as many as 18 students, which would form six groups with three members per group.

Class session #5 – Begin group work on Water Project
Focus: Groups attend library instruction pertaining to database research methods in order to find one additional article about a water issue in the region in which they are reading about. As a group they are to choose an additional article in which to highlight, annotate, and incorporate into the project.

Class session #6 – Continued group work on Water Project
Focus: Groups come together to compare notes and annotations about assigned article pertaining to a global water issue. Each member of the group is to write a summary and a comparison of their assigned locality to that of the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Groups also develop a slideshow type presentation sharing the information about their locality with the class.

Class session #7 – Group presentations
Focus: Groups share information about their specific region from article provided in class, in addition to the article located in the supplemental research water in the specific region of each group. Presentations by 6 potential groups during an extended module period of 1 hour, allowing for each.

Class session #8 – In Class Reflective Writing
Focus: Pre-writing exercises bringing discussion together about how the project has affected our view of available water sources in our area and the world. Brainstorm ideas for possible solutions both globally and locally. Assign reflective paper summarizing important information about the global issue of water in addition to the difference in water that each of us can make in our daily lives.

Listing of Audio-Visuals Used to Implement the Module

“Here’s How Flint’s Water Crisis Happened.”CNN-video. CNN.com. January 21, 2016
This news clip briefly describes how the the Flint Water Crisis happened.

How Capetown Residents Are Surviving the Water Crisis – For Now. National Geographic Video.
This brief video describes how the three year drought in Cape Town, South Africa is going to cause a serious water shortage.

Indonesia Crisis: Clean Water Scarcity in Jakarta. Al Jazeera English. March 27, 2017.
This brief newscast describes the contamination of water used by people from rivers and the ground water, and discusses the responsibility of the government with these issues.

Water and You: The Water Treatment Process. New Jersey American Water. April 5, 2011.
This video describes the treatment of drinking water.

Water Crisis in Africa, CES Graphic Media. August 12, 2012.
Video briefly describes where the world’s water reserves are located, then focuses on the Sub-Saharan region of Africa and how fresh water supplies are limited in addition to proper sanitation.

Water Crisis in Cape Town as ‘day zero’ Approaches – Video Report. The Guardian.
February 3, 2018.
This brief video describes the disparaging differences between the upper and lower classes and their water accessibility and usage.

Water Crisis in the Middle East. Middle East Institute. June 15, 2018.
This video describes what the effects of water scarcity in the Middle East are, one of which includes the uprising in Syria having to do with the drought there and the migration of people to cities.

“Why Care About Water? – National Geographic Video.” October 18, 2017 https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/00000144-0a2c-d3cb-a96c-7b2d4ff50000
This video explains the need for awareness about the Earth’s water supply and the scarcity of water in many regions of the world.

Zilli, Sabrina, et al. Water Scarcity in India. World Issues. May 2, 2016.
This video shows the difficulties an Indian town has in getting water by trucks and the contamination which occurs as the water is distributed.

Student Readings/Writing/Field/Experiential Assignments Used to Implement the Module

Alkhafaji, Hayder. Iraq’s Water Crisis: Challenges and Solutions. Al-Bayan Centre for Planning and Studies Series of Publications. January, 2018 http://www.bayancenter.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/980987665.pdf
This article briefly discusses issues with water in Iraq and possible solutions.

DeRusha, Christopher. et al. Water: Asia’s Next Challenge. Asia Society, Country Briefings, April 2009.
This article is broken down by country and discusses water issues in Bangladesh, India, China, Australia, and the United States. This reading will be used as a supplement to a main article describing a water issue in one of the listed countries.

Dingle, Adam. The Flint Water Crisis: What’s Really Going On? ChemMatters Online, December 2016.
This article describes the timeline concerning the Flint Water Crisis.

Gibson, Dorothea. Water Crisis in Cape Town: Lessons to be Learnt. Voices of South Africa. February 2018.
This article discusses the how the government of Cape Town needs to change the way they are handling the water situation for the future.

Godinez Madrigal, Jonaton., van der Zaag, Pieter., and van Cauwenbergh, Nora. A Half Baked Solution: Drivers of Water Crises in Mexico. Proceeding for the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, 376, 57-62. February 1, 2018.

Guppy, L., Anderson, K., 2017. Water Crisis Report. United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Hamilton, Canada.
This article shows an abundance of graphs and charts in addition to statistics concerning the availability of freshwater on the planet. Article will be used as a general reading for all students in the class to have a better understanding of water availability.

Jalilov, Shokhrukh-Mirzo. Sustainable Urban Water Environments in Southeast Asia: Addressing the Pollution of Urban Waterbodies in Indonesia, the Philippines, and VietNam. United Nations University Institute for the Advance Study of Sustainability Policy Brief, No, 7, 2016. https://collections.unu.edu/eserv/UNU:5796/UNU_IAS_Policy_Brief_7_2c_2016.pdf
This policy brief discusses causes and challenges of water scarcity, along with possible solutions for water issues in Southeast Asia.

Langerman, Jaimee. The City of Cape Town, As Well as the Wider Western Cape Is Currently Experiencing the Worst Drought in a Century. Focus Point. January 2018.
This brief article describes the difficulties that Cape Town is going to endure as a result of drought in South Africa, it includes graphics with statistics and other data.

Pierce, Meredith. Building Resilience to Water Scarcity in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Role of Family Planning. Population Reference Bureau. July 2017. https://www.prb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/PRB_Brief_water_4P-1.pdf
This policy brief discusses the connection between water scarcity and population. It provides information via maps, tables, and other graphics.

Sagala, Saat AH and Pingping, Luo. Water and Urban Initiative Working Paper Series. Overview of Jakarta Water-Related Environmental Challenges. No 4. April 2015.

Singh, Amanjot K., et al. “What Are We Drinking? Assessment of Water Quality in an Urban City of Punjab, India.” Journal of Family Medicine & Primary Care, vol. 4,
no. 4, Oct. 2015, pp. 514–518. EBSCOhost, doi:10.4103/2249-4863.174267.

Student Evaluation/Testing Regarding the Module

Students will be evaluated based on reading strategies used in evaluation of assigned articles, the first one about the Flint Water Crisis, the article provided to the group on the geographic region, and the third article chosen by the group. Each student will be expected to summarize and compare the three articles, (the Flint Article and two about the region in which they are researching). An annotated bibliography format will be used to summarize each article with a concluding paragraph comparing the two articles to the Flint Water Crisis. Using the information from the two articles groups are to generate a slideshow type presentation for the rest of the class about the water issue in the geographic location in which each group has been assigned. In conclusion, each student will also be a assigned a reflective writing activity allowing students to share their increased understanding of global water issues and what each one of them as individuals can do in their everyday lives to conserve water resources.

Grades will be given for the evaluation of articles (highlighting/annotating), including summary and comparison of a global water issue to the Flint Water Crisis, the group paper and presentation, and for the individual final reflective writing detailing ways to conserve and understand the need for water awareness on a global scale.


Articles – Highlighted and annotated with distinguishable marking system
5 points per article – 15 points

Article Summaries including MLA format citation
10 points per article – 30 points

Printed copy of slide show and group presentation
10 points

Reflective Writing Assignment
20 points

Total point value of assignment – 75 points

Resources (Bibliography) Used to Develop-Implement the Module

Bibliography would include any materials researched and found as student readings for the module. See “Student Readings to Implement the Module.”