Shutting Off Water To 150k Residents - Ukraine? No, Detroit!

Tyler Durden's picture

The news that hundreds of thousands of people will lose water supplies is not a stunning headline anymore - poor old Ukraine... or Iraq. However, this time, the 'it couldn't happen here' crowd might be stunned to hear that The Motor City is playing serious hardball with residents who have fallen behind on paying their water bills. Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department has begun turning off the taps of 150,000 residents who are at least two months behind on payments. As one advocate notes, "sick people have been left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe, and parents cannot cook." Of course, given that these are generally voting members of the US public, we would be stunned if the Federal government did not create a new fund to 'help' them out of this 'unfairness'.


As Yahoo reports, The Motor City is playing serious hardball with residents who have fallen behind on paying their water bills.

Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department has begun turning off the taps of 150,000 residents who are at least two months behind on payments. People are being left without a drop to drink and no ability to bathe or use the toilet. Now a coalition of water and human rights activists has banded together to ask the United Nations to step in and end the disconnections.


Last week, advocates from the Detroit People’s Water Board, Food and Water Watch, Blue Planet Project, and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization submitted a comprehensive report to the U.N.’s special rapporteur that details the dire situation facing folks whose water has been cut off.


“Sick people have been left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe, and parents cannot cook,” write the report’s authors. And “families concerned about children being taken away by authorities due to lack of water and sanitation services in the home have been sending their children to live with relatives and friends, which has an impact on school attendance and related activities.”

In 2013, Detroit declared bankruptcy—it’s $18 billion in the hole. Half of the 323,000 customers served by the city’s Department of Water and Sanitation have either paid their bills late or simply can’t afford service, to the tune of $175 million.

Back in March, the department announced that it would be cutting service to residents who hadn’t paid up. Although the city claims that it started sending out notices about the disconnections in March, the report’s authors write that they heard “directly from people impacted by the water cutoffs who say they were given no warning and had no time to fill buckets, sinks, and tubs before losing access to water.”


“We really don’t want to shut off anyone’s water, but it’s really our duty to go after those who don’t pay, because if they don’t pay, then our other customers pay for them,” department spokesperson Curtrise Garner told Al Jazeera America. “That’s not fair to our other customers.”

However, activists claim the city has been unfairly overcharging Detroit residents for water to compensate for its significant financial woes.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 38.1 percent of Detroit residents are living below the poverty line. Despite the tough times many people are facing, they’ve been paying an average of $64.99 a month, significantly higher than the national average of about $40, and rates are only going up. The Detroit City Council just approved a nearly 9 percent rate increase for water.

“What we see is a violation of the human right to water,” Meera Karunananthan, an international campaigner with Blue Planet Project, told Al Jazeera America. “The U.S. has international obligations in terms of people’s right to water, and this is a blatant violation of that right. We’re hoping the U.N. will put pressure on the federal government and the state of Michigan to do something about it.”

Three U.N. human rights experts issued a statement on Wednesday, declaring that “disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights.”

“When I conducted an official country mission to the U.S. in 2011, I encouraged the U.S. government to adopt a federal minimum standard on affordability for water and sanitation and a standard to provide protection against disconnections for vulnerable groups and people living in poverty,” said Catarina de Albuquerque, who is the U.N.’s special rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation. “I also urged the government to ensure due process guarantees in relation to water disconnection.”


One of the experts, Leilani Farha, who focuses on the right to adequate housing, also pointed out the racial implications of shutting off water to the nearly 83 percent black population. “If these water disconnections disproportionately affect African Americans, they may be discriminatory, in violation of treaties the U.S. has ratified,” said Farha.

Although the experts declared that “households [that] suffered unjustified disconnections must be immediately reconnected,” when was the last time the U.N. issued sanctions against an American municipality for human rights violations? In the meantime, 3,000 residents have lost their water, and Detroit plans to turn off the service of thousands more every week.

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So people didnt pay their bills... advocates claim demanding payment for services rendered is capitalist exploitation (and racist)... and now the UN explains how that doesn't matter, water is a right? Tell that to Cambodians?

Welcome to the free market America

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TalkToLind's picture

But what about the chillrens????

TeamDepends's picture

Agenda 21 in action.  Feel the GREEN!!!!

LawsofPhysics's picture

Blah, blah, blah, give us some information we can use.  Should I be buying or selling these municipal bonds?

Say What Again's picture

With only 15 minutes until closing time, I think its possible for SP500, RUA, and moar to reach an all-time-high.

Go Merica!!!

BTW - Tell everyone to move to Saginaw

Also they should start buying pitchforks

john39's picture

as long as ISIL gets its 500 Mil, who cares...

lordylord's picture

I guess the fools finally ran out of other people's money. 

svayambhu108's picture

OT :

Did anyone else taught the same about that at the time?

Did BP used nukes to stop the spill ?

There was a rare one in 50 years earthquake the same night the spill stopped in Louisiana

COSMOS's picture

Boy Right about now that 500 million dollars Obama earmarked for terrorISIS would sure come in handy in Detroit go keep the water running.  YAWN but I hear the money will be used to shut off more water, to millions of IRAQIS by taking over damns by force etc.

Not only that but the instability in the region raises gas prices and we end up paying for it at the gas pump.  Gotta love it.

Anusocracy's picture

Well, in Michigan, you are never more than a couple miles from surface water.

Besides, where I live (west of Detroit) we have received more than twice the normal rainfall this month.

Bring on the cisterns!

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

“What we see is a violation of the human right to water,”

BS. It is not your right to have water piped to you. The SNAP additcs can go to their local lake.... I meant sewer and haul it old school. This is assuming they don't die of a heart attack before reaching their home.

COSMOS's picture

Sure not a right to have water piped to you in the USA but you have the right to have your money sent to other countries to build up their water infrastructure for free.  Please spare me your BS

Anusocracy's picture

Interesting bit of trivia. Not only are the Great Lakes the largest resource of surface fresh water, under them is the largest salt deposit.

Detroit’s salt mines are like an underground city within the city. It is a massive expanse of 1,500 acres and over 100 miles of roads right under everyone’s feet. It stretches from Dearborn, located in the northwest of Detroit’s metropolitan area, and known to automobile lovers as Henry Ford’s birthplace, via Melvindale to Allen Park in the southwest.

chumbawamba's picture

Or here's the other side of it: fine, I don't want city water; I'll just sink a well.  Except that in most municipalities you can't.  A city resident isn't allowed to have a well.  You either pay for a city line or FUCK YOU.

I am Chumbawamba.

Zoomorph's picture

Let's not use government stupidity elsewhere to justify ridiculous socialism. "Human right to water" my ass.

chumbawamba's picture

LOL.  Serious?  Wow.  Where do they make people like you?


Fiat Envy's picture

How can it be a human right to use violence to force someone else to provide you with something you need?

Monty Burns's picture

Let's just assume that it is a 'human right' (every f*cking thing these days is a human right) to have access to water.  But sure as hell it is not a human right to get someone else to pay for treating it and piping it to your door.

NoTTD's picture

And I don't want that done, either.

0b1knob's picture

Actually in Michigan as in most states its against the law to cut of water to an occupied home.   They are cutting off water to unoccupied houses (of which there are many) and posting a notice to pay on occupied ones (pay your bill or face eviction).   After a court hearing the residents can be evicted if they don't pay.  As the article states most people pay.


HurricaneSeason's picture

Some places in Florida will get the shut off order in the mail to you if you're a day or 2 late, not 2 months.  The notice will tell you that they'll charge $75 to turn it off and $75 to turn it back on, at least.  It wouldn't be good to be $50 behind.  They make hardship deals, probably a small percentage.

In Ohio, the city safety director told me "We are a business like anyone else."  My renter got water in 5 gallon buckets from the neighbor next door. They turn it off.

Bemused Observer's picture

Great. Tell you what Skippy, when Detroit becomes ground zero for some 18th century, third-world disease outbreak, how bout we all just wall the lot of you in? Why should the taxpayers in the rest of the country have to send the CDC in to clean up your shithole?

Assuming you don't die of a heart attack first.

You better start 'stacking' antibiotics.

Bill of Rights's picture

Quick someone notify snake pliskin

stormsailor's picture

well coach,  somthing needs to thin the herd of the free shit army. have seen nothing but non-darwin socialism nearly my entire life.  so pay for your dirt cheap sterilized potable water or get it cut off. its simple, 

godalmighty, a right to free water?  oh i remember now, it was right under that line in the declaration about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


wake up,  john smith,  you don't work, you don't eat. well we changed that.


then we did away with a right to our wages, so that they could be confiscated before we were paid them and the money given away for votes.


mazlo's heiarchy was circumvented.  no need for shelter, we have a right to that.  no need for food, we have a right to that. and from rape statistics no need for socially acceptable means to sex.  appearantly they have a right to that as well, they just take.


they have been taking for nearly 50 years and it is not enough and will never be enough. moar, moar, moar.


some liberal ass whiner said something about it's nothing compared to what we spend on war in other countries and largesse sent to other countries.  


yeah, we should put an end to it full stop.


somebody else talked about all the bailout money given to banks and elite,  we whould put an end to that full stop as well.


but the most putrid liberal drivel i have heard in ages is,  a basic human right to water.


this country is more fucked up than a blind mans tackle box and thats for sure and for certain.

ZerOhead's picture

It's a safe bet you couldn't pull this shit off if the President was white and Republican.

He was well chosen.

COSMOS's picture

The poor black folk dont realize that Obummer was never about them, he serves another groups interestes.  Sold down the river by an Uncle Tom.

Gavrikon's picture

Of course not.  If he did, he'd be RAY-cisssss!!!!!

RafterManFMJ's picture

The Motor City is playing serious hardball with residents who have fallen behind on paying their water bills
Golly, up in the land of Whitey, you get your shit turned right off if you don't pay; and no one thinks it odd.

One would have to wonder about the functional IQ of a creature that expects the water/food/electric to keep on a comin' without any payment.

Oh - I just got it; they think the water be flowin' from Obama's stash.

I hope the UN does deploy to clothe and bathe the Hopeless Negroes of Detroit - that would be some absolutely awesome video.

I imagine a truck filled with water and greens, being overwhelmed by colorfully garbed denizens of Detroit as choppers strafe and rocket.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

The basic problem is the concept of water being a right. Unfortunately it is not because if it is, someone must be forced to provide it. Therefore healthcare and food are not rights as well. Long ago people understood this concept and provisioned themselves for a possible lack of basic needs. Nowadays people are so disconnected from the realities of life they are clueless.

Drop a bichon frise in the Serengeti and it will just search for the food bowl. However, before long, nature will take its course.


COSMOS's picture

Yeah but back in the days you could go into the forest or fields and pick any herbs and wild plants you needed for your ailments (most modern drugs are derived from medicinal plants whose properties were explored, case and point big pharma has tons of reserchers scrounging around India and China looking for old time remedies).  You had the right to go out there and get the plants you needed.  Now its called trespassing and someone has torn down the native fauna to plant bermuda grass for a golfcourse.  Listen stuff became a basic right when that happened. Same went for food and water, so please dont go telling me its not a basic right.  When society breaks down me and my weapons will be exercising my basic rights quite thoroughly.

stormsailor's picture

well bubba, you try to exercise your basic rights by taking mine or threatening to.  you may find out that there are people that are old timey tough and meaner than catshit on linoleum that can still shoot a mite, or set some pretty good snares for play bandits.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Sweety you are dead wrong here. Water is a necessity not a right. You need to unlearn what has been indoctrinated by a college professor. If anything is a right it MUST be provided to you. That means enslaving some one to do so if necessary. Or taking from someone else to provide it. There is no way else to look at it. Study the difference between rights and privileges.


scrappy's picture

BS God Created the Earth. Not the Koch Bros. It is a human right to access GOD's creation - Water.

To have it piped to you for zilch is wrong, but so is not having access to a reasonable way to get some somewhere.

If I were the first man to ever catch a fish in the ocean, would I and my family own this "property - my claim on fish" over others, forever?

Common sense begets the notion of our common-wealth.

That's part of why we are in this mess - GREED.

knukles's picture

See and the powers that be in SanFran want to limit your access to water, and use federal funds to do so....

Hulk's picture

LOL, they are limiting the velocity at which you access the water, not the actual water itself !!!

SofaPapa's picture

"The basic problem is the concept of water being a right. Unfortunately it is not because if it is, someone must be forced to provide it. Therefore healthcare and food are not rights as well. Long ago people understood this concept and provisioned themselves for a possible lack of basic needs. Nowadays people are so disconnected from the realities of life they are clueless."

My thoughts have gone exactly here as well.  The whole concept of "rights" has been completely divorced from "responsibilities".  When the founders talked about rights, they were describing their reasons for armed insurrection for independence from the crown.  In other words, they were saying that their actions to take matters into their own hands were just.  They did not expect anyone to GIVE them rights.  Rights were tied to their struggle to bring them into reality.  That concept of "If I want something, what do I have to do or trade to obtain it" has been lost in this country for decades.  One way or another, however, it will return.  The concept of "resources" will be relearned and the current concept of "money" will be shown to have been garbage now for a long time.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You get it. I'm not saying this is pleasant but a simple reality. We as humans can help one another in times of need but this is entirely different from being forced.


Curiously_Crazy's picture

A 'right' is me being able to set a bore in my yard to get the water, or build a rainwater tank to capture the natural rain. But when the gov comes in and says "sorry son, you're not allowed to do that" then yes the bastards should provide me with water if they are stopping me from getting it myself.

Kobe Beef's picture

I agree with you. But the SNAP crowd in Detroit ain't talking 'bout digging a well or building a cistern. They're demanding more free shit, and claiming ray-cism.

Cut them off. Root, hog or die. The perpetuation of the FSA/Nanny State dysgenic cycle is neither my concern nor in my interest.

Paveway IV's picture

"...the same night the spill stopped in Louisiana..."

The seafloor blowout flow was reduced enough (for a year or two, anyways) to allow BP and the U.S. government to claim to Americans that it stopped and everything is now OK. Just like those TEPCO guys told the Japanes people those Fukushima reactors were in cold shutdown and cleanup could start. 

Really great lies have to be tailored to the target population's language and culture. They rarely survive scrutiny when subject to the critical thinkers across other languages and cultures. If the government either allows an odd amount of de facto censorship on an event, or actively promotes such censorship secretly and squeals about doing any such thing in public, then you can be sure you have no frickin' indea what really happened or how it ended or if it's even over.

RafterManFMJ's picture

But without water, how will they make their mud huts and mix pigment for face paint?

Government needs you to pay taxes's picture

They also need the water to recover after their rounds of spear chucking.

COSMOS's picture

Hmm how will they boil you dead, or maybe alive for fun, to get the protein they require when society breaks down and we have marauding gangs with molotovs to burn you out of your house and pick you off as you run out.

RafterManFMJ's picture

I don't usually double post...

TeamDepends's picture

The Chinee are buying up large swaths of Old Detroit, and while they are largely pro water, they are terrified of Pit-bulls.  Hope that helps.

LasVegasDave's picture

All you need to know about Detroit, right here:


An Excerpt:


An 83 percent black city, where civilization - created and only capable of being sustained by whites - was supplanted by the regression to the black mean. 

Though many will assert water is a basic human right, the reality is this resource is no more a right than is the right of a citizen to enjoy safe streets in their community. 

A community is only a reflection of the people who call it home. 

Who work hard to make those streets safe and a place where responsible families can flourish. 

It doesn't just happen naturally any more than water is naturally supposed to come pouring out of your faucet when you put it into the "on" position. 

You have to pay for it. 

Detroit, an 83 percent black city, is not that place. 

It's an unnatural place, kept alive merely by federal and state grants. 

Class dismissed.

NoTTD's picture

It's 83% diverse!  Big success story for the NYT!

Curiously_Crazy's picture

"It doesn't just happen naturally any more than water is naturally supposed to come pouring out of your faucet when you put it into the "on" position. "


Actually it does for 10's of thousands of farmers in Australia and 10's of thousands of others living in remote areas. It's called a water tank. Remember them?

max2205's picture

They just said it out loud.. . 83% of blacks in Detroit don't/won't pay their water bill

What else don't they pay for



john39's picture

i think i read that the bill starts at a base of around $80 per month...  for fluoridated, chlorinated shit quality water...   utter bullshit.