The city will resume its controversial water program next month
Beginning next month, 17,461 Detroit households will run the risk of having their water shut off after the city reintroduces its controversial water plan that renders many Detroit residents delinquent on their water bills.
There is a vocal backlash from Detroit citizens regarding the specifics of the program with many calling for the city to craft a plan that is more comprehensively affordable for its population. This news comes on the heels of many years of controversy surrounding water shutoffs throughout the city, beginning in 2014 when tens of thousands of residents saw their water supply halted.
The current figure is comparable to the 17,689 delinquent accounts the city shut down last year, which was a marked improvement from 2016, which saw 20% more service interruptions. Despite the dissent, city officials expect the current number of potential shutoffs to drop substantially when residents become aware of being delinquent.
Detroit Water and Sewage Department Department Director Gary Brown sees where citizens are coming from, agreeing additional work is necessary to improve the situation while citing improvements already made.
“Anyone being shut off is unfairly disadvantaged,” Brown said. “There’s a level of poverty in this city that has them strapped for cash. We recognize that but I’m saying to them, every single residential customer has a path to not have service interruption. We’re trying to be compassionate about it but at the same time I’m bound by law to collect the services that are rendered. It’s unfair to 90% of residential customers that are paying. That’s the tricky part, separating the truly needy from those who are just not paying.”
2,600 commercial customers are also at risk of shut off beyond the residential figure. Those at risk will be informed by the city beginning in April and shut offs will likely commence later in the month. While roughly 18,000 residencies were at risk for shut off at this time last year, the number was essentially cut in half after residents were informed.