After last week's high profile protests and a stern rebuke by the bankruptcy judge, Detroit Water and Sewage Department is suspending water shutoffs in order to give people who cannot pay their bills an opportunity to work out a plan.
The department’s decision comes on the same day that a group of Detroit residents filed a lawsuit in the city’s bankruptcy case asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to restore water service to residential customers.
The residents, backed by a coalition of activist and community groups, allege that the city is violating the constitutional rights and contractual rights by shutting off water for those who owe back payments.
Johnson said he was unaware of that lawsuit.
Darryl Latimer, director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, told Rhodes today the city will kick off a blitz in the media, social media and though churches and community groups to get information out about payment plans and financial assistance for people with documented inability to pay bills.
“We need to time to make sure our aggressive communications efforts reach customers,” the deputy director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Darryl Latimer, told Detroit’s bankruptcy judge, Steven Rhodes, this morning in federal court.
Funny how that works. Why weren't they "aggressively communicating" with customers before they shut their water off? And let's not forget the way they've jacked up water rates over the past year or so either.
But hey, not to worry, says the city. It's only a small percentage of folks who suffered a complete shutoff.
Of the 15,266 accounts where water service was suspended, more than half were made current and had the water restored within 24 hours, the city said. The remaining accounts with suspended water service represent less than 4 percent of the water department’s residential customer base.
“All Detroit water customers with demonstrated financial need are being helped, and their water is being restored,” said Orr, who is leading the city through the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
15 days is a start. Until they begin to aggressively collect from corporations, they should continue the embargo on shutoffs to poor residents of the city.