Summer Water Shutoffs

Last week, Detroit residents marched outside Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s office to protest a controversial policy by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to shut off the water of customers who were more than $150 or two months behind on their bills.

According to the Detroit News, the protesters, who included members of the National Action Network and local public officials, were calling for the governor to create a water affordability plan for those struggling to pay their bills, chanting that water was a human right.

According to the news report, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department sent 46,000 shutoff notices in the spring, with 4,600 shutoffs taking place so far. The department noted that approximately half of its more than 300,000 water and sewerage accounts are overdue.

Michigan State Rep. Phil Cavanaugh, who attended the protest, said he plans to introduce legislation for a fund that would help those who are struggling to pay their water bills, comparing the shutoffs to cutting off residents’ heat in the dead of winter.

The United Nations has even chimed in on the issue – it has filed a complaint along with several other groups, citing the water shutoffs as potential violations of international human rights.

What is your opinion on the Detroit water shutoffs? Should the state or local government take action to help those struggling to pay their bills? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below, or sending us at e-mail at [email protected].

Water Shut-offs

While I sympathize with the people that can't pay their water bills, water is not free. It never has been. If everyone chose to not pay their bills, how does the water company continue to provide water? All those employees would be out of a paycheck and would have to seek work elsewhere.

Maybe, instead of forcing the water company to subsidize the low income folks who can't pay, which the water company is not able to do, perhaps the government could do that for them. The government can use tax payer funding.

Re: Water Shut-offs

I definitely see the conundrum. It costs money to treat water and deliver it to homes, so utilities can't just let the bills go - and yet, water is one of the most basic human needs. Hopefully the Michigan and Detroit governments can find a plan that will allow the utility to keep its lights on AND help the people who are struggling to pay their bills.

Kate Cline, WQP Managing Editor
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