News: Press Releases

(DETROIT) – As part of an ongoing effort to stop Detroit’s recent water shutoffs, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) today joined members of the Detroit Water Brigade for a news conference to highlight stories of those affected by the emergency and to call for urgent local, state, and federal action to bring the crisis to an end. Congressman Conyers applauded the Detroit Water Brigade, a volunteer-led citizens’ alliance, for its efforts to provide thousands of gallons of water to areas most affected by the shutoffs.

Over the past two weeks, Congressman Conyers has taken a series of actions, including: (1) calling on President Obama to make available some of the $200 million still apportioned for Michigan from the Hardest Hit Fund, a reserve made available for relief from impacts of the Great Recession, for water service relief, (2) requesting that US Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell formally designate the water crisis a public health emergency eligible for federal relief, and (3) directly urging an immediate end to the shutoffs by the Detroit Water and Sewage Department.

Since March, the Detroit Water and Sewage Department has been threatening to cut off water service for up to 3,000 customers per week. Water rates have skyrocketed 119 percent over the past decade, leaving upwards of 90,000 low-income households in arrears and in danger of termination.

“Now is the time for action,” said Congressman Conyers. “In the 21st Century, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no one should ever go without safe, clean water. These steps are just the beginning. We will ensure that this public health crisis is resolved and never repeated.”

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch added: “We applaud Representative Conyers for taking action to demand that water service is restored to all Detroit residents. When 45 percent of the city struggles to pay for water at home, it is clear that the problems go far beyond delinquent payments. It’s indicative of broader, systemic issues resulting from decades of policies that have culminated in profits before people. Governor Snyder should act to ensure that all residents have their water restored--access to safe, clean, affordable water is a human right.”

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