Detroit Residents Face New Water Shutoffs

Concerns continue as residents struggle to pay bills

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 27, 2014 1:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – Water shutoffs that sparked protests in Detroit have started again following a month's respite, the AP reports. Some 420 city customers were due to lose their water supply yesterday in a city where almost 45% of 173,000 residential water accounts are past due. Following appeals to the UN, experts have suggested that the shutoffs may violate human rights, the AP notes. Now, Detroit is dropping fees for water restoration and late payments; it's also allowing residents to enter payment plans by putting forward 10%—rather than the previously-required 30%—of money owed.

"The new system seems to be working very well," says a rep for Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Some 25,000 are now on payment plans, per the city, compared to 17,000 a month back, the Los Angeles Times reports. Yet thousands still appear unable to pay their bills, the paper notes; some 38% of people in the city are living below the poverty line. One resident describes spending about three hours in line each time during several visits to the water department to try and figure out why her bill is so high. "If I had the money right now, I would leave Detroit," she says.

In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, customers wait in line outside the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Westside Customer Service Center in Detroit.
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, customers wait in line outside the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Westside Customer Service Center in Detroit.   (AP Photo/Detroit News, Robin Buckson)
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, a person gives forms to the customers waiting in line outside the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Westside Customer Service Center.
In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, a person gives forms to the customers waiting in line outside the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Westside Customer Service Center.   (AP Photo/Detroit News, Robin Buckson)
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