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Human right to water and sanitation violated as thousands lose water connections in Detroit: UN asked to intervene

A report was submitted today to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation decrying the gross human rights violations taking place in Detroit where thousands have lost their water connections.

The report, submitted by the Detroit People’s Water Board, the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, the Blue Planet Project and Food and Water Watch, calls on the State of Michigan and US Congress to fulfill their obligations to respect the human right to water and sanitation of the people of Detroit.

By April 30, 2014, more than 83,000 households in Detroit were behind in their payments to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). When Blue Planet Project Founder Maude Barlow visited Detroit in May this year, she was told about thousands of families who had lost their water connections. The Blue Planet Project phoned the DWSD for confirmation and was told the utility would begin cutting off 3,000 households per week starting June 2. The DWSD refused confirm the total number of cut-offs, but the MWRO estimates that as many as 30,000 homes will have had their water shut off over the next few months.

In a city where the poverty rate is approximately 40% according to conservative estimates, people have seen water bills rise by 119% within the last decade. People who are unable to afford to pay these exorbitant rates are being cut off with little warning.

Please join us in sending a message to U.S. President Barack Obama and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to uphold the human right to water and stop the water cut-offs!