We are glad to see that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department have decided to extend the moratorium on residential water shutoffs 3 more weeks, until August 25th This past Saturday, over 30 volunteer Water Advocates from the Detroit Water Brigade took part in the city’s first-ever Water Affordability Fair from 8:30am-5pm at 13303 E McNichols Rd on the East Side. Our trained volunteers – clearly identified by their orange safety vests – transported residents to and from the event, assisted residents in understanding their water bills, and provided refreshments and music outside of the Customer Service Center. In total, over 400 Detroiters attended the event and many left reporting positive experiences.
While the Brigade acknowledges these important first steps towards ending the shutoffs and revitalizing the Water Department, we must also report that several of our Water Advocates were routinely denied entry into the Customer Service Center, threatened with arrest, and even ejected from the center. The specific incidents where our Advocates – and the residents they accompanied – faced intimidation are [documented here]. It is essential that our Water Advocates are allowed unimpaired access to residents to ensure that this shutoff moratorium will be honored by the Water Department in full.
The Brigade calls on the Mayor’s Office and the DWSD to revise their procedures moving forward to ensure that Water Advocates may accompany residents into Customer Service centers at their request. We also call on the Mayor’s Office to cease the use of intimidation tactics such as over-policing, coercive contract negotiations, and threats of shut-off that only work to further erode trust in the overwhelmingly good faith efforts of the Department to work with families to keep their water on. We pledge to work with all interested parties to ensure that Detroiters have access to clean water and can get on legitimate, affordable payment plans.