By now, most of the world knows the once thriving city of Detroit is bankrupt. City officials have cut staff, pensions and now it seems they want to cut off water to the poor. The city announced in March that it was owed over $118 million in unpaid water debt. In response, the city plans to cut off water to properties that owe $150 or more. That will affect not only residences but also will include businesses and schools. Estimates are that up to 3,000 properties a week would lose water services.
This has outraged the already stressed community into actions that may include an appeal to the United Nations. An organization known as the Blue Planet Project, which promotes access to clean water, submitted a report to United Nations official Catarina de Albuquerque. The critical report appeals to the United Nations to recognize the “savage austerity regime” of the city and asks for Detroit to stop its actions. The report stated that Detroit officials “fear that authorities see people’s unpaid water bills as a ‘bad debt’ and want to sweeten the pot for a private investor by imposing even more of the costs of the system on those least able to bear them … Sick people have been left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook.” It is estimated that as many as 30,000 households will be affected this summer.
Detroit Water and Sewer Department spokesperson Curtrise Garner stated the following to foreign news agency Al-Jazeera, “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 That’s not fair to our other customers.”
In the meantime the current situation exposes the harsh realities of a failed city.