Audacious Water: The Podcast with Guest Catherine Coleman Flowers
Episode #1: Flowers on the hidden sanitation access problem in the rural U.S.
2020 MacArthur Fellow and activist Catherine Coleman Flowers on just how antiquated wastewater systems are in the rural U.S. South, why we need a new approach to the problem, and why urban water access issues get all the attention.
Listen to the full episode here or on your favorite podcast platform.
- The Center for Rural Enterprise & Environmental Justice, where Catherine is director
- Her 2020 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship page
- Her new book: Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret
- More on the White House Water Summit 2016, where Catherine and John met
- A Nature Communications 2021 study (“The widespread and unjust drinking water and clean water crisis in the United States”) found 489,836 households in the United States lacked complete plumbing, 1,165 US community water systems were in Serious Violation of the US Safe Drinking Water Act, and 21,035 Clean Water Act permittees were in Significant Noncompliance of that act.
- “Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan” from Dig Deep & US Water Alliance Report
- Miami-Dade County’s septic tanks are failing in part because of sea level rise, reports the AP.
- What is straight piping?
- Catherine’s NY Times column about Pamela Rush, who died of COVID-19 Opinion | In Alabama, Poverty and the Coronavirus Are a Double Blow — The New York Times.
- Catherine’s NY Times column, “When Environmental Racism Causes a Hygienic Hell”
- An NPR story on the 2017 trip of the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to rural Alabama
- The Montgomery Advertiser reported on November 9, 2021 that the US Department of Justice had opened an investigation into Black residents’ access to sewage disposal in Lowndes County.
JOHN: Welcome to Audacious Water, the podcast about how to create a world of water abundance for everyone. I’m John Sabo, director of the ByWater Institute at Tulane University.
JOHN: On today’s episode the hidden sanitation access problem in the rural United States and how we can solve it. My guest is Catherine Flowers, founding director for the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice, and a 2020 MacArthur fellow for her work bringing attention to failing water and waste sanitation infrastructure in the rural United States. Catherine’s new book is titled “Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret. Coming up, I talk with Catherine about just how antiquated wastewater systems are in the rural U.S. South, why she thinks we need a new approach to the problem, and why urban water access issues get all the attention.
CATHERINE: My name is Catherine Coleman Flowers. I live in Montgomery, Alabama. I work with the Equal Justice Initiative, but I’m the founding director of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice. And the focus of my work has been issues around wastewater and how do we address the issues of environmental justice, climate change, and a lack of access to wastewater in rural communities throughout the United States.
JOHN: Catherine and I met at the White House Water Summit in 2016. We had the opportunity to sit next to each other, which I think was not just happenstance because we’ve — in talking I learned a lot about environmental justice and access issues in the South just sitting next to you that day. There were other folks in the room who were working on similar issues and since that time have gotten more and more engaged in it and kept in touch with you. And that’s been a productive part of — a productive influence on my research career, and also on my water-activism career. So it was a great fortune to sit next to you.
CATHERINE: Well, thank you. You know, some things are by divine order. We were supposed to work together [LAUGHTER].
JOHN: Right. I’m just going to rattle off some facts here. 785 million people lack access to safe water. That’s 1 in 9 people on the planet. Two billion lack access to a toilet, that’s 1 in 3. And I think a lot of times as an American, even as an American in the water community, we think, oh, that’s a problem that’s abroad that we have to deal with. But no, it’s not. And that’s exactly what you work on. And I think, you know, the recent report by Dig Deep and U.S. Water Alliance brought this issue to the forefront, but you had been working on it for decades before that and bringing it to public light. There are two million — at least two million people without access in the U.S. — without access to drinking water, and that’s what we’re now calling kind of the “U.S. water-access gap.” And so I think, you know, what I’d like to pose to you is, (it more) — tell me about water access from your standpoint and from what you work on.
CATHERINE: Okay. Well, first of all I think that we really don’t know how many people don’t have access not only to water, but certainly to wastewater treatment, because it’s a hidden problem. Most of the communities that are suffering are in rural communities or small towns. We have pretty much associated that with shame, where people instead of talking about it will take it on as a personal responsibility instead of knowing that it’s caused by failed infrastructure, or no infrastructure at all, or policies that have excluded rural communities. And one of the things that we have seen that even — when people think that this problem’s (is going to address in the) U.S. and there’s moneys available for it, but a lot of the moneys that have been put aside to deal with wastewater problems don’t go to the communities that need it. It doesn’t go to the marginalized communities. It generally goes to communities to upgrade what they already have, and those are people that have access. The people that don’t have access are generally left out. And even some of the policies are written in such a way that it does not include unincorporated areas of the U.S. And I think that, you know, it’s a shame to think that the only way you can get access to wastewater treatment or even water is that you have to be in an incorporated area, when in fact you’re still a taxpayer and you’re still, you know, an American. So from where I sit I see this problem being not just in Alabama but throughout the United States. And people are now coming to me and sharing with me that this is a bigger problem. People in Alaska are dealing with it because of the melting permafrost. There are people in the Central Valley that are dealing with this problem because they never got the infrastructure in the first place, the Central Valley of California, one of the most liberal states in the Union. And then you have people Navajo Nation who have access — who have lack of access to wastewater and water infrastructure. Or if you’re turning off water in Detroit. They not only not have access to water, they don’t have access to flushing their toilets either because you need water to flush the toilets. Or people in Miami who are having problems because of sea-level rise and they’ve built all these communities with septic tanks that are failing that. And when they fail the sewage comes back into the house. And the big problem that’s looming now for me, the question that I have is how many of these people have increased risk of COVID and potential death because of exposure to wastewater? Because we know now that you can test wastewater to find out the level of COVID infection in a community before people actually start experiencing symptoms so we have to address this. This is not just a — it’s not just a problem abroad, it’s a U.S. problem as well. But I think what the U.S. could do is provide the leadership that’s necessary to address it. I think that we have that, we just need to have the will and be able to put our time and effort into finding a toilet that when we flush it clean water comes out, and that we can reuse and recycle. And we have not done that yet. I believe — and you’ve probably heard me say this before — that if we can treat wastewater to drinking-water quality in outer space on these space shuttles, why we can’t do that here? And why we can’t have the type of device that someone can buy at a Lowe’s or a Home Depot and be able to put it in their home? That’s what I aspire to. And hopefully out of, you know, talking about waste, especially waste that comes from our bodies, that we can come to that ideal where we can not only help address the wastewater problem here in the U.S., but across the world. Because we’re not the only ones experiencing the problem.
JOHN: So that’s great that you’re getting to the solution side of things. I have a couple of questions about that down the road. But before you do that, I wanted to ask you if you could just sort of paint us a picture of what access issues look like in the rural South, in Alabama? Because I remember you told me a few things at the White House Water Summit that just opened my eyes. So tell me what — tell me about that.
CATHERINE: Well, basically there are a couple of problems. One is some people are straight-piping. “Straight-piping” means that — usually these are families that are poor families living in mobile homes. They’re living in homes a lot of times that, you know, people say, “Why can’t they move?” Well, they can’t move a lot of times because they purchased the mobile homes and they’re in predatory lending situations, like Pamela Rush was, who was one of the persons working with me who died of COVID on July 3rd. Pamela Rush was 50 years-old and she lived in a single-wide mobile home that her family had acquired, and eventually it was passed on to her. But the predatory lending situation that she was in rendered this mobile home where she couldn’t just walk away from it. And then she was straight-piping, meaning that when she flushed her toilet it went out into the ground right behind her house. And that is very prevalent, you see that in a lot of areas where people have raw sewage on the ground. And it’s primarily because the septic systems that they want — that they need are so expensive. So we had tried to move Pamela prior to her death, and she had a half-acre of property that was up the street from — up the road really — it wasn’t paved street, it was a dirt-road actually — up the road from where she lived. And we brought in engineers, and when they dug down to do the perc test and determine the percolation rate, the rate in which the water drains through the soil, they struck water at 25 inches. The type of system that needed to go there cost $28,000. We’re talking about for a family who made less than $1000 a month. So how were they going to be able to afford that? So that’s one of the problems. The second problem that we found are people who have actually invested in wastewater treatment by getting a septic system installed, but every time it rains… They’re families that have — the ground holds water, but there’s also a lot of water coming from the sky now because we’re having all these tropical storms because of climate change, and we’re in the Gulf region. So with all this rain what is happening is these systems start backing up into people’s homes. That means it comes in through a bathtub, it can come in through a sink. If they happen to be away from home during the day and come back it can be all over their homes. We’ve actually gone to homes where we can see the water marks around the walls where the sewage just actually comes out, and this is raw sewage coming back into homes. Then the third problem we’ve seen are people that are paying wastewater treatment fees that are part of these small-town systems that don’t work. And what happens, the engineers design it, the state approves it, and then they — when there’s a problem they blame the individual like they do with the (onsite) systems. And there are too many of these happening for it to just be random. The problem is they’re not working. And these systems are designed for a time that does not include where we live right now, and we have to change that. So that is what it looks like. And you have — when we took the (U.N.) Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty to visit an area where there was sewage on the ground, it was a cluster of mobile homes. You could see the water lines bringing drinking water to the home just above the ditches full of raw sewage. And it begs one to question whether or not any of that sewage was getting in those pipes and going into those houses or contaminating that water. So when a reporter that accompanied him asked him — asked the Special Rapporteur, “Have you ever seen this before?” and he said, “This is very uncommon in the developed world.”
JOHN: Right, exactly. So tell me about drinking water. You know, the toilet issue and the sewage issue is clear from what you just described. Where do these folks get drinking water?
CATHERINE: A lot of them are part of public systems where they can get access to drinking water. And we did test — we did do some random testing of drinking water and we did not find any problems with the drinking water. So that was a good thing, because, you know, that would’ve compounded the problems even worse. But the problems that we found were primarily with sewage treatment, or just lack thereof.
JOHN: So these — you know, most of the communities you work with that are rural, they’re not peripheral (and) peri-urban; they’re in the woods or in the swamp. And there are clusters of mobile homes that have aquifers that are very close to the surface, so any sort of below-ground storage and treatment option is questionable. And you think that the solution is sort of individual household or trailer treatment at the toilet?
CATHERINE: I think that ultimately we’re going to have to get to that. Because what is being proposed has not worked. It hasn’t worked. It’s not working. I’m hearing from people around the country that are having problems with failures. I’m hearing from people around the country that are working in corporate America that say, “Look, I put all this money into a septic tank and I know that just sooner or later it’s going to fail,” and we have to find some solutions. So that is… I have one friend who lived outside of New York in New Jersey who had a septic system. And when she sold her home to move to Red Bank she thought that she could smell raw sewage. This is outside of New York now, outside of Manhattan. So she said she could smell the sewage. But she thought it was the family next door to her because they had lots of children. But when she put her house on the market it had to be inspected — it was her septic tank that was leaking, and that was what she was smelling. So this is a problem throughout. And the assumption is — we have to get away from thinking that we can build something that will last for a few years that’s so important, and then have to start it all over again. We can’t keep doing that. We’ve got to come up with a different way of dealing with this problem because of the health issues that are associated with it as well.
JOHN: Let me ask you, so in — globally there’s two billion that lack access to a toilet, 785 million that lack access to safe water. So it’s almost twice or 2.5 times as many people without toilets. Is that same in the U.S.? Like, when you look at water access you look at the two dimensions, sanitation and clean water. Are there more people without access to sanitation than to clean water?
CATHERINE: I would think so. I would think so for the same reason that we have — you know, we have water… And there was an effort to — I remember even when I grew up, I remember when we didn’t have access to public water, that everybody had to have their own individual pumps. You know, I remember my father having an electric pump. Somebody had to dig a well for us. That was the way we got water. And then my parents, my father in particular was part of establishing the (inaudible) water system that they had that brought water to everybody. Because otherwise there would be people passing by our house going to Miss (Nail)’s house to go to her manual pump to get water. And I think that there was an effort to take water to most places. Water is not everywhere. Everybody — you know, we know in the Navajo Nation they don’t have water everywhere. And there are some people that are still being left out. But you can have water and not have a toilet that’s functioning. And a lot of the people in Lowndes County that I’ve worked with, or other places that I’ve gone, have water, they just don’t have access to adequate wastewater treatment.
JOHN: I remember you told me at the White House Water Summit often the nearest toilet is at a Walmart.
CATHERINE: For some people that’s true.
JOHN: [CROSSTALK] communities, yep.
CATHERINE: And even if — and what I do when people come to visit in Lowndes County when they want to see it firsthand, I have to plan the bathroom stops. I have to plan where they go. I tell people, “Don’t drink a lot of water because you’re not going — you know, because if you don’t have a problem with — you can go and use the bathroom in somebody’s house and having to sit in the back when we go out to look, then that’s fine.” But most people do have a problem with that, so I have to plan it in such — I plan the trips in such a way that the two places that I know — public places that I know that they can go and use the bathroom, that they would have access to it.
JOHN: Wow. So let’s pivot to equity. Globally these issues affect women more than men. Some questions are is that true here in the U.S., and more importantly, tell me about racial disparities, socioeconomic disparities in access to either sanitation or drinking water.
CATHERINE: Well, I think globally if we look at a lot of the households, and especially in these marginalized communities, they’re headed by women and we can see why that could potentially be a problem. We have not looked at that, to do the type of research to verify that, but that’s my educated guess. But also — women and children. But also I think that we have to — in marginalized communities a lot of it is because of structural racism or systemic racism where communities were just denied access to… If I go to — for an example, there’s a town in Lowndes County where there was sewage treatment that was available to people who were white — the so-called “white side of town” at that particular time in history, and then when they expanded it to the black side of town the infrastructure was very different that they used. And that’s where people were having all the problems. But I see that to be a common problem around the U.S. when I go and I talk to people. When I went to Centreville in Illinois, similar problem. I mean, that’s up north and right outside of St. Louis, but in the State of Illinois. I saw more raw sewage on the ground there than I saw in Lowndes County. And it’s gotten to the point that I’m not shocked anymore. But one of the things that they had in common is that they were people of color. Or if you go to West Virginia, or Kentucky, or Tennessee, a lot of times it’s poor white communities that are suffering from the same thing. And there should not be an unequal — there should not be unequal access to water or sanitation based on your economic means. We should not put people in a caste system and think it’s okay for people in rural communities, or people in marginalized communities to be excluded something that should be a basic human right.
JOHN: That’s interesting. You made a distinction there that I think is important. There’s certainly some disparity that owes to racism, to systemic racism. And there’s another access which is income and poverty.
JOHN: And I think that’s an important distinction to make. And what I wanted to ask you more about was another access of comparison, which is rural and urban. What’s the issue in urban areas, and is it different than the one that you see in rural?
CATHERINE: I don’t think that it’s that different, I just think that we tend to know about the urban problems more because that’s where the media focus. And even with Flint — and Flint was wrong and never should’ve happened — but there are so many other Flints around the country. There’s Denmark, South Carolina. You know, there are other places that have had lead contamination. And I think Flint was so egregious because, you know, they did that just to make money. And it scares me when we start talking about profit from water when man didn’t make the water, but man wants to control who has access to it. And everybody has to have it in order to live. And if we’re talking about giving people a cheaper form or contaminated form of water because it’s cheaper and they can make more money off of it, that’s what Flint was about. And that should not be — that should not be, whether it’s in a rural community or an urban community. I think the difference is Flint was able to get the attention because it was an urban community. But a lot of these rural communities people don’t focus on it. And I think people want to focus and assume that Flint is probably the only area of the United States that this has happened to. This does not true — it happens in rural communities as well as in urban communities. I mean, just to give you an example of — there was money that was made available in Lowndes County to provide a service — wastewater treatment for a segment of Lowndes County that’s the business community. Seemed to me the business community should be able to pay for their own wastewater treatment. Yet the poor people in the community are expected to pay for it themselves or be cited by the Health Department when they can’t provide it. And that’s very unfair.
JOHN: You said before that there were many Flints before Flint, and probably many after. When we think about the rural issues do you think that the rural issues are overlooked because they’re not concentrated in a city, or is it because they’re forgotten because they’re not in a city?
CATHERINE: I think rural issues are overlooked because a lot of the people that are reporting on these issues haven’t been to rural communities. You know, it’s like when I [CROSSTALK] — yeah, (were a lot of) students — and (inaudible) a lot of students for an example. And when I talked to them about coming to Lowndes County I tell them to write the directions down because your GPS may not work. Or they make the assumption that if they see the address and the address is Hayneville, Alabama, they’re going to the town of Hayneville. That’s just where the post office is.
CATHERINE: But you’re not going to the town of Hayneville. You know, it’s like the Lowndes County Interpretive Center the address is in Hayneville, Alabama — it’s actually located in White Hall. The phone company, if you want to call information, you know, the phone company is out of (Selma), but it’s located in Lowndes County. But that — a lot of rural communities are that way. And so people don’t have the rural perspective. And they were saying — they usually ask, “Well, isn’t there a city nearby that they can connect to?” Because that’s — you know, that’s most people’s perspective. So I think it’s very, very important to have a rural perspective when looking at these issues, or come and visit. Because a lot of people that are trying to propose solutions or trying to propose solutions for an area they know nothing about, they don’t even understand the rural — you know, how rural communities are organized or set up, that everybody doesn’t have broadband, you know, that you may go to some parts of that rural — in Lowndes County and other rural communities where your cell phone is not going to work so you can’t depend on it for everything. And I think that that’s one of the reasons why we have kind of a rural-urban divide, if you will, because some people just have not taken the time to go to these areas. Actually one of the deans at Duke said to me that he wanted to make sure that the students understand the rural communities are not the place that you go through to get to the beach or to get to the mountains.
JOHN: Interesting. That’s a (good quote). It’s interesting that you bring this up. I was just on the Navajo Reservation last week and the conditions there in terms of cell coverage maybe not as spotty, but there are places where you can’t get it, and it is sparse. And I think that the sparseness is something that if you come from the city and you don’t spend time in rural areas that you can’t comprehend. And I think that might be a unifying theme of a lot of communities that have these access issues is this sparseness. And I think that comes back to the solution space, which you think is household level, and I would agree with that. There are a lot of ways to go there. What I want to ask you though is kind of something more immediate, which is when you go to rural areas and you see something that’s working what does it look like? You know, there have got to be some bright spots, right? What do those bright spots look like?
CATHERINE: I haven’t seen it yet.
JOHN: Okay. So there isn’t a bright spot?
CATHERINE: I haven’t seen it yet. Because just to give you an example, I’ve actually — you know, I’m a practitioner-in-residence at Duke, and I’ve actually had people who come to me off the record to talk about their own experiences. There are communities that have reached out to me that are more affluent, and they have problems, too. But they don’t want to talk about it because they’re afraid that it’s going to run their property values down. So no, I have not seen it yet.
JOHN: That’s stunning. I mean, that’s a big statement I think. It really underscores the need for change there, right? [CROSSTALK]
CATHERINE: There is a need for change, because I think that what people are pushing on (folk) is a short-term solution, and they should say that that’s what it is. It’s a short-term solution. But when it starts coming back into people’s homes it’s the worst solution. And also the fact that they have to pay so much for it, for it to break down and not work. And then every time it breaks down then they use the state to criminalize people that have paid for this, that they know it doesn’t work, and then they come back and they tell the individuals who have paid this money, “Well, there’s something that you did.” They never take the responsibility for it. And that’s part of the problem — those are the paradigms that we have to change so we can find some real sustainable solutions. And we have to keep in mind, too, that we’re living in historical times even in terms of climate change. And if water is a factor and heat is a factor — because the heat impacts the land, whether or not — at least where we are it expands and contracts depending on how hot it is. And the other problem that you have is we’ve had so many named storms to come in the Gulf this year even that we’re always experiencing rain. I need to look at the latest weather report because I think the last I heard there was something forming in the Caribbean that could mean more rain for this area. And what we hear whenever there’s more rain in the area people complain about these wastewater treatment — the lack of wastewater treatment, or the wastewater treatment itself. Somebody called me from Georgia last weekend and said — told me a place outside of Atlanta. And this is not a rural community. And they told me — they were talking about the people there have septic tanks and they’re having problems. And the lady said to me — without me saying it to her — she said, “Every time it rains they have problems.” I hear that in Lowndes County all the time.
JOHN: Yeah. That gets me to thinking — so back to solution space — imagine you had the perfect toilet, the perfect widget that solves the sanitation problem for these communities and prevents cross-contamination between the drinking supply, which is supplied publicly, and now this kind of household-specific treatment infrastructure, if you will. What kinds of — I’m going to call them “social infrastructure” — what kinds of social infrastructure do you need to make that sustainable? Like, you’ve been talking about short-term solutions. What do we need to do in the communities if we have the widget in order to make sure that the widget is implemented correctly, and works properly, and continues to work properly, and delivers the standards that are needed, etc.? But what aspects do you need there?
CATHERINE: I think first of all in terms of design you’ve got to have the people from the community sitting at the table. I think you’re going to have failure if you have people from the outside coming in and trying to force something on (folks). For an example, you know, when I first started doing this work everybody was talking about composting toilets. But when I talked to local people about it they said to them — they were only a generation away from outhouses. And they felt a composting toilet was the equivalent of having an outhouse inside your house. So, you know, if you haven’t had that experience and never been to an outhouse you don’t understand how people feel about that. But we have to — I think the point — the paradigm shift is having people sitting at the table who are in these communities being part of the design. I only know about these issues because I listened to the people in the community. You know, when I grew up and our sewage was coming back into our home I didn’t know it was because I didn’t know everybody else was having that problem, too. I thought it was just us. So I think it’s very important that — to build trust, that we don’t just have engineers who don’t live in the community, that don’t understand the customs and what people will and will not accept to be there when there are people that are willing to actually be a part of that process. We’re going to have to change that paradigm. I think that’s the first thing. And then the second thing we have to do is test it. We have to test it and make sure that it works. You know, I don’t think that we should just do what we always do, come up with something then to decide, well, you know, so many people are going to have to die anyway, you know, kind of thing. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to make people accept it.
JOHN: So let me interrupt you and say, do you envision those tests being — like, testing different things and seeing which one has the best outcome, or do you envision them being tests of one thing versus nothing, or versus existing system? Do you know what I’m saying? Like, there’s many different ways to probably solve the problem.
CATHERINE: Yeah, I’m sure that there may be different solutions, but what we’re looking at is a solution that can work anywhere and everywhere. I think that that’s a possibility — there’s a possibility to — there’s a way to do that I believe. And that’s where I’m going to be putting my efforts. And that’s what I’m going to do with this award is to use it to find that one solution that we can use everywhere. I mean, it’s just like an AC system. You can go to a Lowe’s or a Home Depot and buy one and hire an installer to come and put it in. I can’t put in an AC system. But they don’t vary that much and they do the same thing, which is cool off the house, you know? So likewise we — I think we can do the same thing. I think that we overthink this sometimes because it gives people jobs or makes people feel important. But I think that we can still give people jobs by coming up with a green way in which we can treat wastewater, and doing it in such a way that when it does come out of the toilet it comes out clean, it kills viruses. And something that we can not only sell here in the United States, but around the world, that people would be interested in it. So I think that there are ways in which we can do that, we just have to look at it. I think that some of us are looking at what we’ve been taught and we can’t get away from that. But it is those kinds of things that keep people in situations… Because I’ve been doing this for 18 years. And in the 18 years I’ve worked with (folks) who said they had the solution, we paid them to put in place a solution, and the same thing happened. So that’s why I am not supporting we keep doing the same old thing, because that’s insanity.
JOHN: Yep, I agree. So maybe the last question that — the communities that you work in and the communities that experienced the water access (inaudible) marginalized and experiencing poverty — high levels of poverty — is there a way for the solution that you’re talking about you think to create a business opportunity for the communities that employ them? In other words, you’ve got to keep those things working.
CATHERINE: How can you keep them working if they’re built to fail? If they’re built in such a way that you have no control over the rain, and how often it’s going to rain, and it keeps coming back into people’s homes… It’s gotten to the point that some people are going to file so many insurance claims that those insurance companies won’t cover it anymore, you know? So those are realities on the ground. So we have to come up with something that really works. And I think if we start from there we can get there quicker than we can working on the same old thing that we know is not — that people already got those and they’re not working.
CATHERINE: So — and I don’t even subscribe to the premise anymore that they work. I don’t subscribe to that anymore. Because I don’t want to — I’m not going to be the one to talk somebody into putting this in their home, and then when they come home and the stuff is all over, I’m not the one cleaning it up, and I’m not the one paying for it, and neither are the people that are suggesting that. So that’s why I pulled back and say, look, let me just work on a solution. If these other folk don’t want to make money off continuing the problem, let them do that. And what we’ll do is work on trying to find some real solutions — long-term solutions to these problems.
JOHN: I understand. Great. Well, I don’t have anymore questions. Do you have any comments that you want to make, or any statements that you want to make that I haven’t asked you the questions to prompt you for?
CATHERINE: Well, I’d like for people to read my book, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret. I think that it will help people to understand how I arrived to where I am today in terms of how I view this. This has been a work that’s been going on for many, many years. I just didn’t come to these conclusions. And some of the conclusions or solutions that people have been proposing to me were the same solutions that were proposed 18 years ago and didn’t work then, and they don’t work now. So that’s the reason why I am actually advocating for something new and different so we can find something that really, really will work, and that will be a way for somebody to go in, (inaudible) something, have a press conference and say that the problem is solved, and five years later the people are right back on the news talking about the same thing. And the people that propose the solution have made the money and went on and spent it. And it’s — you know, we’re right back where we started. We can’t keep doing this over and over again, and that’s what I’ve seen. So in the book I talk about my experience, what I’ve seen, and also I propose solutions. And where I am right now is working on some long-term solutions.
JOHN: That’s great. We’ll include the link in the newsletter, and at the bottom of the podcast when we have that posted. So it’s been great talking to you and catching up with you.
JOHN: I’m looking forward to reading the book. And, yeah, keep doing great work.
CATHERINE: And we’ve got to collaborate.
JOHN: We do have to collaborate.
CATHERINE: Yeah, that’s the only way we’re going to find some real solutions.
JOHN: That’s it for this episode of Audacious Water. If you like the show please rate or review us and tell your colleagues and friends. For more information about Audacious Water visit our website at Audaciouswater.org/podcast. Until next time I’m John Sabo.