Tell U.S. Health & Human Services and President Obama to Declare a Public Health Emergency in Detroit

A bucket is no substiture for a toilet

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) is shutting off water at thousands of Detroit residences each week even if their account debt was incurred by previous owners. This means no running water as the summer heats up, and no sewerage. Families can't flush their toilets!

This is not sanitary and violates the human right to water and sanitation. In fact, with improper disposal of waste, these shut-offs pose serious health concerns.

Please send a message to President Obama and U.S. Health & Human Services to urge them to declare a Public Health Emergency in Detroit.

Learn more about Detroit's water crisis

Detroit's water is not affordable. Detroiter's rates are some of the highest water rates in the region. Over the past 10 years, rates have increased over 119 percent, and recently the Detroit City Council approved an 8.7 percent rate increase. With about 40 percent of the city's residents living at or below the poverty level, water is simply unaffordable.

In April, Detroit's emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, announced plans to privatize management of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) by the end of the summer. Read more about the Problems with Water and Sewer Privatization on our website.

Not long after, DWSD began shutting off water to thousands of residents, upwards of 30,000 to date. These shut-offs are occurring even if their account debt was incurred by previous owners or slumlords. Meanwhile, corporate accounts, like the Red Wings' home hockey arena,went unpaid yet were still being served. What makes the situation in Detroit even more atrocious is that in many cases water is being shut off without warning, leaving the sick, the elderly and children without drinking water, functioning toilets, or water for cooking, cleaning and bathing.

On Friday, June 27, 2014, one of Detroit's U.S. Representatives sent letters to President Obama, the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and DWSD urging them to take federal action and provide local relief for the water crisis. Read more on Congressman John Conyers's website.

Food & Water Watch and our partners at the Blue Planet Project, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and the Detroit People's Water Board have called on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water, Catarina de Albuquerque, to take immediate action to restore water services and stop further cutoffs.

UN officials visited Detroit October 18 through October 20, 2014 to learn more about the impact the shut-offs are having on living conditions. Read more about the visit and the United Nation's recommendations in the joint press statement by UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Read more: Detroit, MI

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Dear President Obama and U.S. Health & Human Services,

Please declare a Public Health Emergency in Detroit and work with officials to turn the water back on for Detroiters in need.

[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]