September 22, 2014

Detroit in Bankruptcy Court for Shutting Off Water for Unpaid Bills

A hearing is scheduled in bankruptcy court today on a motion to stop Detroit’s water department from shutting off service to residents with unpaid bills.  As mentioned previously in this blog, the unelected Detroit emergency manager has been periodically shutting off water to residents who have not paid their water bills.  This is of course is most affecting low-income people who are already struggling.

Friends of Water suggests that these actions are a seriously misguided ‘solution’ to a dramatic human problem.  Depriving people of water is shameful.  It also is very likely to increase costs for the individuals and families, and for the city, as those without water are forced to try to find other ways to get water.  For example, if residents have to buy and carry water home, it will cost them much more.

The UN has declared that water is a human right.  Hopefully the bankruptcy court will support that view.

Update:  The courts pushed out the intended action by the city by a couple of weeks.  That hardly changed the dire situation for many of Detroit’s citizens.  This campaign of the city to try to collect monies owed continued.  When more and more home access to water was shut off, one of things that happened was “bootleg” companies with the tools to turn the water back on for homes hit the streets.  For $20, they would turn someone’s water back on.  Of course that introduces yet other costs and criminal activity.

In November, 2016, the Federal Courts upheld the dismissal of the appeal against Detroit’s shut-off campaign.  The Feds said Detroit had the right to do that, and they could not interfere.

Access to clean water is not a right in this country.  It should be.

A better solution is hard to see for Detroit, which filed bankruptcy in 2013.  But we submit that cutting off access by their own citizens to clean water for cleaning, eating and drinking is inhumane.

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