Mass water shutoffs in Detroit, Mich., are making news around the world. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has begun disconnecting water from households that have been unable to pay their water bills. In May alone, the DWSD served 46,000 shutoff notices and executed over 4,000. Local community leaders say the numbers are closer to 3,000 per week.
Water is a basic human right. People need water for drinking, bathing, and even flushing the toilet! At the same time the utility is issuing mass shutoff notices, it raised the cost of water 8.7 percent.
Who will be most hurt by Detroit’s water shutoffs? Individuals and families, including infants, children, people living with disabilities, people who are chronically ill, and the elderly. Their health is at risk without adequate water and sanitation. Child Protective Services must, by law, move to protect children in homes without adequate water and sanitation — children may be taken from their parents and put into foster care.
What happens in Detroit will impact tens of thousands of people and send a message to the rest of the country. DWSD is the third largest provider of drinking water and wastewater treatment services in the United States. We need to take action now to protect families in Detroit and to ensure that clean drinking water in the United States does not become a luxury good.
Take action now: Sign the statement below. Help us send a strong message to Detroit’s emergency manager and water utility director. Help stop mass shutoffs and protect residents of this great American city. Help defend the human right to water.
Water is not a luxury good. It is a basic human right due to all people, including low-income individuals and families.
As a person of conscience, I oppose water shutoffs that affect people who cannot afford to pay and whose family integrity and health are at great risk. It is morally wrong to shut off water to individuals and families, including infants, children, people living with disabilities, people who are chronically ill, and the elderly.
I respectfully call on Emergency Manager Kevyn D. Orr and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Susan McCormick to immediately stop mass water shutoffs in Detroit and immediately restore water services to households at risk. I also request that they put into place protections for infants and children under six years of age, the elderly, chronically ill people, and those living with disabilities — all for whom a water shutoff is an extraordinary burden and risk to health and family.
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
689 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139-3302
p 617-868-6600 | f 617-868-7102