Detroit to Make a Decision About Shutoffs

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Detroit's Bankruptcy Judge, Steven Rhodes, is Scheduled to Decide Whether to Stop the Water Cutoffs

An estimated 17,000 residences were spared losing access to water when the city announced they were placing a moratorium on the shutoffs on July 21. But the shutoffs resumed on August 26 and thousands more households are at risk of losing the most fundamental of human rights.

At the end of August, Jennings filed a motion asking Judge Rhodes to stop the cutoffs and restore water services to occupied residences without water.

Detroiters pay some of the highest water rates in the country -- twice that of the national average. With its 10 point plan and affordability fairs, the city attempted to reach out to "willful non-payers" and low income households. Yet, the plan and fairs do not address the root problem: many have no income. Without a job, paying $150 just isn't possible.

Some see the recent regionalization plan as the best option for the city of Detroit. But it remains to be seen how this plan will impact the most vulnerable already adversely affected by the Detroit water system's poor management. The Detroit People's Water Board warns that creating a regional water authority is the next step on the pathway to privatization.

More importantly, those affected by this plan were left out of the decision making process. The ability to participate in decisions on how water and basic services are allocated is a pillar to a truly democratic society.

Upholding UN resolutions are often seen as a federal responsibility. But what happens when a federal government fails in its duty to afford people basic human rights? Many would argue that lower levels of government -- state and municipal -- and courts have legal and moral obligations to uphold international obligations when federal governments have failed.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder and Detroit mayor Mike Duggan have failed to use their power to stop the shut offs and restore services to those without water. Representatives of the City of Detroit in mediation must also remember their obligation to respect the human right to water.

Source: Huffington Post

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