When I was growing up in Detroit, this was the legend on the license plates, "Water Wonderland" then they changed it to Water Winter Wonderland. In the 70's it was simply The Great Lakes State. Water was never an issue in Detroit. A city of fountains, every park had drinking fountains, lots of city pools. If we wanted a skating rink, we just mounded up snow and sprayed it, let it freeze and then flooded the enclosed area with water...we would do this in November and then add a little water from time to time until it thawed in February. But today, in Detroit, as the city's poverty rate rises, the water rates have risen over 40% in the last decade. As the city's state appointed comptroller tries to maximize the profits to be squeezed out of the assets of Detroit, the city owned water and sewage department is now fair game in the privatization game and who is being squeezed the hardest in the dirty game of sweetening the pot for the potential private buyer? Not the almost 200,000 delinquent commercial accounts, and we are talking owing $150.00 as a "delinquent" account...it is, so far, 125,000 private home owners who are being threatened and actually having their water and sewage service shut off. The DWSD claims that they started sending warnings out in April at the same time they announced a further 8.7% rate hike. The DSWD has already shut off the water to almost 8500 households. Many of the affected citizens state they never received a warning notice and many who did, state that the services were shut off well before the payment deadline printed in the notices had expired. Many affected residents who have tried to deal with the shutoffs have run into a wall of unresponsive bureaucracy and if they cannot meet the Kafkaesque requirements in their attempts to pay the bills, they have to suffer. Delinquent commercial users are not being held to the same criteria.
Simply stated, many thousands of Detroit residents are being threatened with immediate water cut offs and thousands have already lost their services. What does this mean? Think about it. No water, no toilets, no sanitation. If you are a poor person who needs medical assistance, forget about it. This is brutal. This is beyond the cruelty that many urban third world residents would expect or have to endure. At least if you lived in a barrio in Rio, there would have been some kind of system set up for a communal water supply. Detroit? Instead of thinking of the future for the poor, they are taking services and cutting back systems daily. This is the result of the ALEC directives that Republican Governor Rick Snyder is following. The decisions are not made by elected officials, but by appointed corporate controllers who are systematically looting the state. This is simply a crime against humanity. The Canadian Human Rights Organizations have already stepped in to ask the UN to recognize the violation of basic human rights that is occurring.What is happening in Detroit is a social crime and a violation of the human right to water and sanitation as recognized by the United Nations. It is a violation of the "Obligation to Respect," whereby a right once realized cannot be removed.
|Here is an archival photo of the fantastic Detroit Waterworks Park on East Jefferson on the Detroit River.|
This is the real legacy of Detroit. Water everywhere for everyone. I used to come here as a kid.
Where to begin to deal with this? Perhaps as the public outcry and awareness grows, the UN will actually get involved. I have been looking for public forums to address this. I have the link to a petition at The Blue Planet Project which I have signed, but I fear that it won't be taken seriously until the real human toll of sickness, disease and deaths start making the news. Even then, I have little faith in the media to deal with this in a responsible way. Detroit has been made into a scape goat and many conservative Americans have been brainwashed to believe that what ever happens to these poor, lazy, ethnically challenged people is somehow something they deserve because they dare to live in the once great city of Detroit!