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UN experts condemn Detroit water shutoffs

Posted date: October 22, 2014

Mayor’s office says UN is wrong, ‘everybody’s gotta pay’

By Curt Guyette
Special to the Michigan Citizen

During the three days she spent in Detroit investigating the water shutoff crisis, there were a number of times when Catarina de Albuquerque’s jaw literally dropped.

A United Nations human rights expert on issues involving water and sanitation, Albuquerque would sit, mouth agape, astonished by what she was hearing from residents and their advocates.

UN Special Rapporteurs

“I heard testimonies from poor, African American residents of Detroit who were forced to make impossible choices — to pay the water bills or to pay their rent,” Albuquerque said Oct. 20 during a press conference to announce what she and fellow U.N. Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha had learned while in Detroit.

“A woman whose water had been cut off explained that her teenage daughters had to wash themselves with a bottle of water during menstruation, and had to refrain from flushing the toilet to save water,” Albuquerque said.

From the woman who said she stopped cooking rice because of the amount of water it takes, to the parents who expressed fear the state would take custody of their children if it was discovered they lived in a home with no running water, Albuquerque and Farha heard testimony and, during a tour, saw firsthand the effects water shutoffs are having on Detroit’s poorest residents and their neighborhoods.

But what struck her most, Albuquerque said, is the sheer scope of the problem. Through September, according to the Detroit’s Department of Water and Sewerage, service has been cut to more than 27,000 households so far this year. Of that number, about 12,000 remain without water. READ MORE AT THE MICHIGAN CITIZEN

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Detroit People’s Platform Action Alert – WATER


Detroit People’s Platform Action Alert – WATER
In response to the crisis of mass water shutoffs in the city of Detroit, the People’s Platform took the following actions:

People’s Platform sent a letter to the Detroit City Health Officer demanding a moratorium on the water shutoffs and an assessment on how shutoffs are impacting the physical and mental health of Detroiters living without water.  There has been no response.

Secondly, People’s Platform filed a petition with the city clerk calling for City Council to convene a public hearing on the water shut offs.  City Council has not responded.

The People’s Platform is issuing the following call to action:
Members and supporters of the Detroit People’s Platform are encouraged to attend the City Council Health and Welfare Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 29th at 10 am at the Coleman A Young Municipal Center and support the work of the broad-based coalitions.

Prepare public comments for the meeting that call for accountability on the part of our elected and appointed officials for the health and welfare of Detroiters by demanding that council support the following:

    •    Call for immediate restoration of water to the thousands of Detroiters who are without water service
    •    Beyond the 15 day moratorium call for the end to water shut offs for all Detroit residents
    •    Call for the Public Health Officer to assess the impact of mass shut offs on the health and mental health status of those impacted by the shut offs
    •    Support the water affordability plan  
    •    Stop the privatization of Detroit Water and Sewage Department

Please plan to arrive early so that you can get on line and have your say. Let them know you are with the People’s Platform. We need as many Platform members and allies there as possible to stand with our coalition partners and fellow residents.

We hope to see you there!

For more information on the water crisis:
Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition