Mapping Infrastructure Challenges in an Old Industrial City: Focus on Water Affordability

Authors: Sujata Shetty*, Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center, University of Toledo, Katie Rousseau, American Rivers, Kimberly Panozzo, University of Toledo
Topics: Urban and Regional Planning, Urban Geography
Keywords: Infrastructure, water, old industrial cities
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Water safety, equity, access and affordability have been particularly fraught issues in several old industrial cities in the U.S. mid-west, with Flint and Detroit being particularly high-profile cases. In 2014, a toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie, near the intake point for the City of Toledo’s water system, resulted in city water being declared unsafe for drinking. The ban lasted three days. Focus groups conducted in two low-income neighborhoods indicated that residents were concerned not only about the safety of city water, but also its affordability. This paper focuses on the latter aspect of residents’ concern. The research, a collaboration between the Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center at the University of Toledo, the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toledo and the non-profit American Rivers, analyzes trends in the spatial distribution of water affordability in the city and surrounding areas by mapping water shut-off notices in an effort to understand the extent of these challenges in the region, including changes over time. Among the results: concentrations of disconnections notices occurred in low-income neighborhoods, as expected, but were not limited to those areas; owner-occupied homes had lower percentages of disconnection notices as compared to rental homes; units with multiple disconnection notices increased and then decreased, following the contours of the recession; over time, disconnection notices to owner-occupied homes decreased while the reverse was true for rentals.

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