The Detroit Water Brigade is gearing up for the second summer of water shutoffs. After a respite, and despite the Detroit city council’s recommendation that the shutoffs cease, Mayor Duggan ordered the shutoffs to continue.
Despite the work of the Detroit Water Brigade to stop the shutoffs and mitigate the effect on residences cut off, the contractors’ trucks are again out painting sidewalks blue to indicate this place is next.
Detroit is not alone in facing water shutoffs to its poorest residents. Lost in the #BlackLivesMatter riots after the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore was the news that Baltimore was set to begin shutting off water to 20,000 homes last month.
Detroit could see the landscape and conditions in the city rapidly deteriorate as 40% of the city’s homes face cut off of their water supply with the latest round of disconnect notices.
Despite the admonition in October from the United Nations that cutting people off from water is a human rights violation, city officials maintain that they are simply responding to the issue of unpaid bills. However, Motor City Muckracker reported that the city was also cutting off water to homes with up to date payments.
Social justice leaders and observers warn that the water shutoffs could lead to an unprecedented revolution in Detroit. Investigation shows that many of the residents living without water, or who are in danger of losing water service, are disabled, raising children, working, or have been employed recently before losing jobs. Compared with the staggering delinquent amounts for which the city has let commercial accounts slide by, the residential accounts will not make much more of a dent in the city’s financial disaster.
Infographic by Amy Peterson (click to enlarge)