Fresh water, old problems

When most people think of water and environmental justice, they think of the Flint water crisis. On the introductory episode of The Water We Swim In, hosts Bonnie and Hali talk to UW-Madison’s Dr. Manny Teodoro, who has been studying environmental justice and water since before Flint was a household name.

Dr. Teodoro walks us through the troubled history of racial conflict in the Great Lakes region. Discriminatory housing practices, such as redlining, have led us to the present, where low income communities of color experience greater Safe Drinking Water Act violations than affluent white communities.

Wisconsin Sea Grant’s Moira Harrington and Jim Hurley join Dr. Teodoro to talk about the Great Lakes. In the Great Lakes region, we have access to the greatest source of freshwater on the planet. The Great Lakes have sustained millions of people over thousands of years. But with great privilege comes great responsibility. “We can, in theory, solve our water accessibility and affordability problems,” says Teodoro, “but it requires a kind of political will and political coordination that is sometimes hard to do. And rac[ial divisions] make that so much harder.”

Finally, Dr. Teodoro speaks about structural reforms that would make our water systems safer and more equitable. We end with a preview of what is to come in future episodes.

Thanks to our guests

Dr. Manny Teodoro, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Jim Hurley, Wisconsin Sea Grant

Moira Harrington, Wisconsin Sea Grant


Class, Race, Ethnicity, and Justice in Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance

Switzer, David & Manuel P. Teodoro. 2018. “Class, Race, Ethnicity, and Justice in Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance,” Social Science Quarterly 99(2): 524-535. 

Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need to Know
Dr. Manny Teodoro


Smiling woman standing in front of a lake.

Bonnie Willison | Host

Video Producer

What I do at Sea Grant

As the videographer and digital storyteller, Bonnie uses her video and animation skills to showcase the stories of Wisconsin Sea Grant.

Hali Jama | Host

Student Podcast Producer

What I do at Sea Grant

Hali brings her background in social justice, business and marketing to Wisconsin Sea Grant, where she is the co-producer and co-host of The Water We Swim In.