Detroit residents are calling on the United Nations for help, as the city shuts off water to 150,000 residents. The city of Detroit has begun shutting off water access to city residents behind on their payments. Even though it’s typical for shut offs to happen when bills aren’t being paid, nearly half of Detroit’s 323,900 residents are behind on their water bill, according to theDetroit Free Press.
Al-Jazeera America is also reporting that the average monthly water bill is nearly double the national average of $40. Even then, the Detroit City Council approved a 9 percent hike last week.
In response to the water shut-offs, activists have reached out to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights for relief.
“We are asking the UN special rapporteur to make clear to the U.S. government that it has violated the human right to water,” said Maude Barlow, the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and a key member of the coalition that put the report together. In addition to creating international pressure to stop the Detroit shutoffs, Barlow said, the UN’s intervention could lead to formal consequences for the United States. “If the US government does not respond appropriately this will also impact their Universal Periodic Review,” she said, “when they stand before the Human Rights Council to have their [human rights] record evaluated.”
Detroit’s water shut-offs began earlier this year as an effort to balance the city’s budget deficit. Crews were deployed around the city and began cutting 3,000 residents’ access to the water supply each week as part of an effort to shut off water to more than 150,000 delinquent customers, according to the Detroit Free Press.