Thousands of low income Black Detroit residents have already had their water shut off, risking both public health and personal safety. What’s worse — the city plans to resume shut-offs tomorrow.1
Just weeks ago, under pressure from organizers in Detroit and thousands of supporters online, Governor Rick Snyder’s hand-picked Emergency Manager returned control of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to the duly-elected mayor.2 While a small victory for local control, the move was ultimately a political ploy to provide cover for Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. Mayor Duggan’s “10 Point Plan” does little more than offer better customer service while continuing the inhumane and unjust practice of shutting off water.3
The solution is the Water Affordability Program (WAP) passed by the city council back in 2005. The WAP would provide relief to thousands and create a safety net that allows low income residents to pay on a sliding scale, based on their income. A 3-judge panel is holding a hearing on August 29th during which they could order the WAP back into effect and end the shutoffs once and for all.
While Detroiters suffer under policies implemented by an unelected emergency manager, corporations are protected and speculators are circling. Individuals with as little as $33 owed have had their water shut off without warning while the Palmer Park Golf Course which owes $437,714 still has water.4 The initial round of shutoffs were a tactic to make the city’s water rights a more attractive target to potential private investors. 5
Even with authority tenuously returned to the Mayor, his plan offers little hope to residents whose rates have risen 119% in the past decade.6 Under this scheme, relief is only available after putting down a large lump sum payment and there is no promise that the emergency manager will not seize back control and change the rules yet again.
The Water Affordability Program would provide relief to all residents living under 175% of the federal poverty line and reign in the out-of-control rates DWSD has charged.7 The WAP is the best way to restore water to thousands of residents in Detroit at reasonable rates.
Water is a basic human right and denying access to water poses a dire threat to public health. To make matters worse, earlier this month there were historic floods in Detroit. A state of emergency was declared. The flooding has caused millions of gallons of sewage to back up into waterways and basements. 8 How are you supposed to clean sewage from your basement when the city has shut off your water?
Thanks and Peace,
Aimée, Rashad, Arisha, Matt, Johnny and the entire ColorOfChange.org team.
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1. “Duggan, DWSD to release updated plan on water shutoffs Thursday; moratorium extended until Aug. 25,” Metro Times, 8/4/14,
2.”Detroit’s drought of democracy,” New York Times, 7/29/14,
3.”Orr Dumps ‘Hot Mess’ of Water Shut-offs in Duggan’s Lap,” People’s Water Board, 7/29/14
4. “Detroit water department now sending shut-off crews to commercial customers,” Detroit Free Press, 7/14/14
5.”Detroit shuts off water to thousands of broke residents,” Think Progress, 6/20/14,
6. See reference 3.
7. See reference 3.
8. “Snyder declares flood disaster for southeast Michigan,” Detroit Free Press, 8/20/14,
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We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged, and by taking an all- of-the-above approach to develop homegrown energy and steady, responsible steps to cut carbon pollution, we can protect our kids’ health and begin to slow the effects of climate change so we leave a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. Building on efforts underway in states and communities across the country, the President’s plan cuts carbon pollution that causes climate change and threatens public health. Today, we have limits in place for arsenic, mercury and lead, but we let power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want – pollution that is contributing to higher rates of asthma attacks and more frequent and severe floods and heat waves.
Cutting carbon pollution will help keep our air and water clean and protect our kids. The President’s plan will also spark innovation across a wide variety of energy technologies, resulting in cleaner forms of American- made energy and cutting our dependence on foreign oil. Combined with the President’s other actions to increase the efficiency of our cars and household appliances, the President’s plan will help American families cut energy waste, lowering their gas and utility bills. In addition, the plan steps up our global efforts to lead on climate change and invests to strengthen our roads, bridges, and shorelines so we can better protect people’s homes, businesses, and way of life from severe weather.
While no single step can reverse the effects of climate change, we have a moral obligation to act on behalf of future generations. Climate change represents one of the major challenges of the 21st century, but as a nation of innovators, we can and will meet this challenge in a way that advances our economy, our environment, and public health all at the same time. That is why the President’s comprehensive plan takes action to:
Cuts Carbon Pollution in America. In 2012, U.S. carbon pollution from the energy sector fell to the lowest level in two decades even as the economy continued to grow. To build on this progress, the Obama Administration is putting in place tough new rules to cut carbon pollution—just like we have for other toxins like mercury and arsenic —so we protect the health of our children and move our economy toward American-made clean energy sources that will create good jobs and lower home energy bills. For example, the plan:
- Directs EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholder to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants;
- Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies;
- Directs DOI to permit enough renewables project—like wind and solar – on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; designates the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting; and sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020; while maintaining the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations;
- Expands the President’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020;
- Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings;
- Commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to save families money at the pump and further reduce reliance on foreign oil and fuel consumption post-2018; and
- Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes.
Prepares the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change. Even as we take new steps to cut carbon pollution, we must also prepare for the impacts of a changing climate that are already being felt across the country. Building on progress over the last four years, the plan:
- Directs agencies to support local climate-resilient investment by removing barriers or counterproductive policies and modernizing programs; and establishes a short-term task force of state, local, and tribal officials to advise on key actions the Federal government can take to help strengthen communities on the ground;
- Pilots innovative strategies in the Hurricane Sandy-affected region to strengthen communities against future extreme weather and other climate impacts; and building on a new, consistent flood risk reduction standard established for the Sandy-affected region, agencies will update flood-risk reduction standards for all federally funded projects;
- Launches an effort to create sustainable and resilient hospitals in the face of climate change through a public-private partnership with the healthcare industry;
- Maintains agricultural productivity by delivering tailored, science-based knowledge to farmers, ranchers, and landowners; and helps communities prepare for drought and wildfire by launching a National Drought Resilience Partnership and by expanding and prioritizing forest- and rangeland- restoration efforts to make areas less vulnerable to catastrophic fire; and
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