July 30, 2014

Statement On Mass Water Shutoffs Impacting Detroit Residents

NEWS from Sierra Club

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014                          DAVID HOLTZ

Statement of Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair
On Mass Water Shutoffs Impacting Detroit Residents

The following statement was released today by David Holtz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair:

Sierra Club, the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization, believes the waters of Michigan and all of America are held in public trust.  The public trust doctrine is the principle that water is held in common—no one made it, no one owns it—and is preserved for public use.

Detroiters—and all residents of Michigan—have a basic right to water and the mass water shutoffs in Detroit should end.  There is considerable evidence that insufficient advance notice and payment options were given prior to the water shutoffs.  Moreover, Detroiters currently pay about twice the national average for water and are among those the least able in the country to afford these rates.  It is understood that there is a cost to providing the infrastructure and delivery of water as a public service and the following actions should be taken to address the water shutoff crisis in Detroit:
  • An end to water shutoffs and immediate restoration of water to all Detroit residents beyond the current 15 day moratorium.
  • Detroit City Council should conduct a public hearing on the water shutoffs.
  • An assessment should be made by public health officials of the impacts of mass water shutoffs on the health and mental health of those affected by the shutoffs.
  • A comprehensive water affordability plan for Detroit should be adopted that includes conservation policies and a goal of providing water at rates more in alignment with Detroiters’ ability to pay.