Thousands left without water service in Detroit

Thousands left without water service in Detroit


Folks in Detroit who are behind on their water bill are facing forced water shut offs as the summer begins. Citizens, frustrated with the city and a private company takeover of the water supply, are appealing to the United Nations saying that their human rights are being violated.

According to The Guardian:

“Welcome to Detroit’s water war – in which upward of 150,000 customers, late on bills that have increased 119 percent in the last decade, are now threatened with shut-offs. Local activists estimate this could impact nearly half of Detroit’s mostly poor and black population – between 200,000 and 300,000 people.

“There are people who can’t cook, can’t clean, people coming off surgery who can’t wash. This is an affront to human dignity,” Charity said in an interview with Kate Levy. To make matters worse, children risk being taken by welfare authorities from any home without running water.

Denying water to thousands, as a sweltering summer approaches, might be bad enough in itself. But these shut-offs are no mere exercise in cost-recovery.

The official rationale for the water shut-downs – the Detroit Water Department’s need to recoup millions – collapses on inspection. Detroit’s high-end golf club, the Red Wing’s hockey arena, the Ford football stadium, and more than half of the city’s commercial and industrial users are also owing – a sum totalling $30 million. But no contractors have showed up on their doorstep.”

Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) has criticized the Detroit Water and Sewage Department. This week Conyers said, “Over the past decade, Detroiters have seen their water rates increase by 119%. Over this same period, forces beyond city residents’ control — including a global financial crisis that left one in five local residences in foreclosure and sent local unemployment rates skyrocketing — severely undercut Detroiters’ ability to pay.”

For more context on the water crisis in Detroit for thousands of citizens, check out this segment from Democracy Now:

Photo credit: Ian Freimuth via Flickr