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Barlow says Detroit water cut offs should be our wake up call

Detroit water cut-offs

IPS reports, “A severe water crisis in the financially bankrupt city of Detroit in the U.S. state of Michigan has prompted several non-governmental organisations and activists to appeal for U.N. intervention in one of the world’s richest countries. ‘This is unprecedented’, said Maude Barlow, founder of the Blue Planet Project, a group that advocates water as a human right. ‘I visited the city and worked with the Detroit People’s Water Board several weeks ago and came away terribly upset’, she told IPS.”

“Last March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced plans to shut off water service for 1,500 to 3,000 customers every week if their water bills were not paid. And on Tuesday, the City Council approved an 8.7-percent water rate increase. According to a DWSD document, more than 80,000 residential households – in a city of 680,000 people – are in arrears, with thousands of families without water, and thousands more expected to lose access at any moment.”

“In a joint report released Wednesday, the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Blue Planet Project, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organisation and Food and Water Watch made several recommendations, including an appeal to the state of Michigan and the U.S. government to respect the human right to water and sanitation. [The report was submitted to] Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, urging the United Nations to weigh in on the crisis and help restore water services and stop further cut-offs. The report also calls on the city of Detroit to abandon its plans for further cut-offs and restore services to households that have suffered water cuts.”

“Food & Water Watch’s research has found that communities experience even larger water rate increases when systems are privatised. [Food & Water Watch researcher Mary] Grant said the shutoffs appear to be an attempt to make the water and sewer system more appealing to potential private investors.”

The article ends quoting Barlow, “Let Detroit be our wake-up call. President Barack Obama must step in.”

To read the 8-page report ‘Submission to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation regarding water cut-offs in the City of Detroit, Michigan’ please click here. To sign the petition calling on Obama and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to ‘stop the water shut-offs and work to make water accessible and affordable for all’, click here.

We also ask that you help share these links on Facebook and on Twitter using the hashtags #right2water and #Detroit.

Further reading
Water cut-offs in Detroit a violation of human rights by Maude Barlow
Barlow talks Detroit water cut-offs on Thom Hartmann radio program
State-appointed manager pursues privatization bids for Detroit water utility
Human right to water and sanitation violated as thousands lose water connections in Detroit
The struggle for the right to water in Detroit continues