This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
In the next few weeks, Detroit is set to start shutting off water to thousands of residents with unpaid bills. Since the shutoffs began four years ago, tens of thousands of Detroiters have had their water cut off, drawing sharp criticism from local anti-poverty activists as well as the United Nations.
Households are slated for shutoff once their water bill is 60 days or $150 past due. While more than 17,000 households are at risk, Gary Brown, director of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, told the Detroit Free Press that roughly 2,000 will actually be shut off as more residents enroll in repayment and assistance plans. The city’s Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP), for instance, offers up to $1,000 a year to help customers catch up on their accounts.
According to Brown, the average home slated for shutoff this year is $663 past due, and most water connections are restored within 48 hours of being turned off. City records obtained by Bridge Magazine show that the number of yearly shutoffs went from 33,000 in 2014 to 17,500 last ... Read more