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Council asks Judge to issue restraining order against water shutoffs in Detroit

Stop water shutoffs in Detroit!

The Council of Canadians and its allies are awaiting a decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes on a request to issue a Temporary Restraining Order against water shutoffs in Detroit.

USA Today reports, “[Lawyer Alice] Jennings represents a number of groups opposed to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s aggressive program of going after unpaid water bills. The department has cut off water to 19,000 homes in recent months, with about 5,000 remaining without water, Jennings said. The groups fighting the shutoffs include the National Action Network, Moratorium Now, the People’s Water Board and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.”

Yesterday the Council of Canadians added its voice by writing Judge Rhodes. We said, “We understand that you will be ruling on the Temporary Restraining Order on the water shutoffs… and are writing to urge you to place an injunction on the shut-offs in order to respect the human right to water and sanitation.”

WXYZ reports that Judge Rhodes asked numerous questions during yesterday’s hearing.

He asked Jennings:

– How do you deal with the argument that when some don’t pay everyone else’s bills go up?

– Should people in trouble seek out help on their own when they can’t pay?

– Are there people who applied for help and didn’t get it during the moratorium?

And he asked Detroit’s attorney Timothy Fusco:

– does the DWSD have a hearing policy prior to a shutoff?

– what is the department’s policy if people call in and say they have a medical emergency?

– how many customers have been provided with financial assistance by the city?

In mid-July, WXYZ reported, “Judge Rhodes says the water issue is a ‘solvable problem’ and the city needs to make a much more aggressive plan to help customers avoid shutoffs.”

Further reading
Detroit bankruptcy judge questions water disconnections