Lessons and Policy Implications from the Flint Water Crisis

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

CSD Policy Brief





Publisher Name

Washington University in St. Louis

Publisher Location

St. Louis, MO


The purpose of this brief is to describe the shortcomings of Michigan’s EM system and inform policymakers on potential improvements for its eventual replacement. We first frame the EM system within the logic and practice of urban austerity politics. Next, we demonstrate how emergency manager policies are not race-neutral approaches to solving urban financial crises. Rather, historically oppressed groups—and African Americans in particular—tend to absorb its costs. We conclude by considering what the Flint water crisis suggests about policy mechanisms that might prevent future environmental health crises, outlining the role of social workers in this process.


Author Posting © Center for Social Development, 2019. This article is posted here by permission of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis for personal use, not for redistribution. The article was published in the CSD Policy Brief, Issue 19-41, October 2019, https://openscholarship.wustl.edu/csd_research/898/

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.