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As Detroit Shuts Off Water To Thousands, Activists Ask UN To Intervene

Posted by on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM
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1 mom liked this


As Detroit Shuts Off Water To Thousands, Activists Ask UN To Intervene

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A coalition of activists have called on the United Nations to intervene in the city of Detroit’s decision to begin shutting off water service for those who cannot pay their bills.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, or DWSD, announced in March that it would begin shutting off water service to as many as 3,000 homes and businesses per week in an effort to keep the department from falling even deeper into debt. In the past two months, the DWSD has shut off water service to over 7,500 properties.

Last week local nonprofit Detroit People’s Water Board, Food and Water Watch and Canada-based Blue Planet Project sent a letter to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation asking the body to put pressure on the local and federal government to provide relief to those in need.

"What we see is a violation of the human right to water," Meera Karunananthan, of the Blue Planet Project, told Al-Jazeera America. "The U.S. has international obligations in terms of people’s right to water, and this is a blatant violation of that right. We’re hoping the U.N. will put pressure on the federal government and the state of Michigan to do something about it.”

Half of Detroit’s population is behind on their water bills, according to CBS News-Detroit. That number represents about $118 million in unpaid bills. In order to recover some of that money, the city council recently voted to raise water and sewerage rates by 8.7 percent or approximately $5 per month. 

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield voted against the increase and told the Detroit Free Press that raising rates during a time when people are struggling was a bad idea. 

“I don’t feel that residents should have to bear the burden of an increase right now,” she said.

The groups that sent the letter to the U.N. believe the utility is charging high rates to the city’s residents — its poorest customers — in order to drive delinquent customers away. By doing so, the utility would be more attractive for a private takeover. DWSD said that is not why they are raising rates or shutting off service.

"We really don't want to shut off anyone’s water, but it’s really our duty to go after those who don’t pay, because if they don’t pay then our other customers pay for them," DWSD spokeswoman Curtrise Garner, said. "That’s not fair to our other customers.”

But city officials have acknowledged that, at least, a partial private takeover of the utility is being considered. 

Activists argue that the utility continues to raise rates, driving poor families from the city by depriving them of water. They point out that rates for water have doubled in the past decade. The average water bill in Detroit is about $75 per month. The national average is about $40 per month.

Sources: Al-Jazeera America, CBS News-Detroit, Detroit Free Press

- See more at: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/detroit-shuts-water-thousands-activists-ask-un-intervene#sthash.a7FeqEC7.dpuf
by on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:10 PM
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Replies (1-10):
StarburstKisses
by Bronze Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:16 PM
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I am happy I found a post about this. I find it ridiculous that they're going to do that to thousands of people. 

IhartU
by Gold Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:19 PM
5 moms liked this

Water should be paid for with tax dollars.

fireangel5
by Gold Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:21 PM
2 moms liked this

Chicago keeps raising their prices. I pay over $300 in Jan and again in June for water/sewer. 10 years ago, I paid about $75 once a year. 

Quoting IhartU:

Water should be free and paid for with tax dollars.


daconut
by on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:21 PM
8 moms liked this
Where I live, if we don't pay our bills, ie water, electricity, and/or gas they will be shut off. What makes ppl in Detroit any different then the rest of us? It's a business that needs money to operate. The system wouldn't be so old and archaic if that had been collecting all along and making the necessary upgrades.
StarburstKisses
by Bronze Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:23 PM
4 moms liked this

I find it ridiculous in itself that people have to pay for water in the first place. I find it ridiculous with many things most societies in the world think are okay. If someone can't afford it and they get behind, "just shut their water off". What exactly do they think these people are going to do? That's no drinking water, no water to wash, no water to cook, no water for laundry, no water for anything. Did they raise the price for water to make up for the amount of money that is owed? I odn't understand that logic because if they raise the price, they not only make it harder for people to pay their water bill there. They also make it for those who aren't able to pay their water bill (or who don't in general), go into debt with them at a higher rate. Thus making them loose even more as a company. Logic is flawed. They think, "welp. the only thing to do is to shut the water off" Um, no - no that's not the answer. Why not work together and find a solution - scum bags. They try getting away with it by saying, "It wouldn't be fair to out other customers (that we have to now raise the prices for them to pay for you!)" which tells me they are trying to twist it around and get those who do pay their bills angry at those who can't. Manipulation at it's best. I hope they fine the fuck out of the company who is trying to get away with it. I hope they also get rid of the government elected who decided to help this out, pass some things on the water, and who support it. Clearly their heads are in their ass's and they're not thinking clearly.

IhartU
by Gold Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting fireangel5:

Chicago keeps raising their prices. I pay over $300 in Jan and again in June for water/sewer. 10 years ago, I paid about $75 once a year. 

Quoting IhartU:

Water should be free and paid for with tax dollars.


 Same here. Slum lords are refusing to pay their water and garbage bills and so the people who DO pay had their rates raised to make up for it. It's totally stupid and unfair.

 

liquidtinkerbel
by Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:25 PM
4 moms liked this

 So basically, like any other business or service you do not pay your bill for, they shut you off, or deny that service. Why are people bitching about it? If you don't pay for something, you don't get it. It's quite simple. We have a well, so we don't pay for water so I guess I do not see why it's so hard to pay for water.

chopped headTeam Zombie! (former sn elrikandisis)

NDADanceMom
by on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM
1 mom liked this
I think it's fair to make people pay their own bills. If they can't afford water maybe the county has funds to help. I'm guessing some can afford the water but don't pay because there was no consequence.
IhartU
by Gold Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:26 PM
3 moms liked this


Quoting daconut: Where I live, if we don't pay our bills, ie water, electricity, and/or gas they will be shut off. What makes ppl in Detroit any different then the rest of us? It's a business that needs money to operate. The system wouldn't be so old and archaic if that had been collecting all along and making the necessary upgrades.

 Why don't you get in your car and drive through Detroit and then perhaps you'd understand.

IhartU
by Gold Member on Jul. 6, 2014 at 1:27 PM
2 moms liked this


Quoting liquidtinkerbel:

 So basically, like any other business or service you do not pay your bill for, they shut you off, or deny that service. Why are people bitching about it? If you don't pay for something, you don't get it. It's quite simple. We have a well, so we don't pay for water so I guess I do not see why it's so hard to pay for water.

 No job equals no money to pay your $200 dollar water bill.

 I swear some of you know nothing about what's been going on in Detroit!

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