Yesterday began th Detroit Water and Sewerage Department’s suspension of their controversial shutoffs for 15 days in order to give residents another chance to prove they are unable to pay their bills.
“In case we have missed someone who has legitimate affordability problems this will allow them to come to us to see if they can work out payments,” said Bill Johnson, department spokesman. “We’ve always maintained that what we were doing was a collection effort — not a shutoff effort.”
The decision came on the same day a group of Detroit residents filed a lawsuit asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to restore water service to residential customers.
The residents, backed by a coalition of activist and community groups, allege that the city is violating the constitutional rights and contractual rights by shutting off water for those who owe back payments.
“Water provided through public utilities is a necessity of modern life and continued access to it is a property right accorded due process protections,” the group said in its lawsuit filed with the court Monday.
The lawsuit was filed by 10 residents along with the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, People’s Water Board, the Michigan chapter of the National Action Network and Moratorium Now!