Congressman Vows Action to Restore Water Service for Detroit Residents
(WASHINGTON) – Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) strongly condemned recent cutoffs that have left thousands of Detroit residents without access to drinking water or basic sanitation. In March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced it would begin terminating water service for up to 3,000 customers per week if their water bills were not paid. Last week, the Detroit City Council approved an 8.7 percent increase in the water rate. According to recent statistics from the DWSD, approximately 80,000 area households are currently in arrears. In response, Representative Conyers issued the following statement:
“Detroit’s water crisis did not happen in a vacuum. Over the past decade, Detroiters have seen their water rates increase by 119 percent. Over this same period, forces beyond city residents’ control—including a global financial crisis that left one-in-five local residences in foreclosure and sent local unemployment rates skyrocketing—severely undercut Detroiters’ ability to pay,” said Conyers.
“Draconian water cutoffs are not a pathway to financial solvency. To the contrary, actions that deny residents the ability to bathe, hydrate, or prepare meals for themselves and their families create costly long-term public health challenges. These water cutoffs are not only inhumane but economically short-sighted.
“I am developing a range of solutions with local stakeholders to address the crisis, including requesting federal emergency relief, engaging the local water authority to ensure protection of vulnerable populations, and introducing legislation to protect access to water during bankruptcy proceedings. In the coming days, I will be working with my colleagues in Congress, state and federal officials, and my constituents to defend the right to water and protect public health. I will not tolerate the notion that—in the 21st Century, in the wealthiest nation on earth—families should go without access to affordable public water and sanitation services.”