The United Nations is being appealed to by activists and organizations in Detroit, after thousands are being left without access to water.
On June 18th, the Detroit People’s Water Board, a coalition of unions, non-governmental organizations and community groups, released its submission to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation regarding the increasing amount of water cutoffs in Detroit.
According to the group, over 3000 people have had their water shut off between April-May of this year, with many more at risk of losing water. Of Detroit's 179,000 residential water accounts, some 80 000 – almost 45% - may lose water for being behind on payment. A report by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) stated that the average amount owed per household was just over $540.30.
“After decades of policies that put businesses and profits ahead of the public good, the city now has a major crisis on its hands. It is shocking and abominable that anyone would be subjected to these conditions,” said Blue Planet Project Founder and Food & Water Watch Board Chair, Maude Barlow.
In March, the DWSD announced it would begin to shut off water service for 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week. This past week, Detroit's City Council approved water rate increase of an 8.7 percent.
Detroit has become emblematic of the decline of industrial cities in the United States.
With the decline of the US auto sector, Detroit has experience dramatic depopulation, decreasing over 25% in the last decade. At the same time, unemployment and poverty has spiked, making Detroit among the poorest cities in the US.
In 2013, Detroit declared bankruptcy an emergency manager to make cuts, including privatization of services such as water.