Action Alert: Health Emergency magnified by water shut-offs

Action Alert to MCWC Supporters

In the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic health officials mandate that we wash
our hands often and practice other sanitation protocols. Water is essential to
such a response and currently there are roughly 10,000 households in Detroit
without running water. Many have been shut off for years, which means even if
there is an order to turn their water back on, the pipes are no longer in a
condition to be used in a safe way. Only people recently shut off are getting some
relief. Others are being told it will be months. Thousands in Flint still do not have
running water and are still experiencing disease epidemics. There are additional
communities around the state where water is shut off for some and unsafe to
drink for others. SE Michigan however is in the most immediate crisis with so
many people already experiencing health crises.

Water shut offs, due to the inability of poor people to pay ridiculously high water
bills, have been a public health issue for many years. Hepatitis A has been at
epidemic levels in Detroit and people already compromised by health problems
have doubly suffered from this policy. Now we have a pandemic which is sure to
hit those without water and sanitation the hardest in Detroit, Highland Park,
Hamtramck, Flint, Benton Harbor and other cities where the right to water and
sanitation has not been honored.

This is unacceptable. The response of State government has been pathetic. A
moratorium on future shut offs and an order to the water department to restore
service, when the water department has been crippled by years of neglect and
loss of local control at the hands of the state, is not enough. There must be an
immediate emergency response which calls in bulk delivery of water to public
stations, disinfectants, instructions to households about safe practices for turning
water on, teams of plumbers to fix pipes, and a rapid move to forgive old bills and
get a statewide affordability plan based on income moved out of committee and
on to a legislative vote. Had such an affordability plan been put in place at the
state level years ago the water crisis would not be happening now in a time of
serious health pandemic.

The Peoples Water Board Coalition, of which Michigan Citizens for Water
Conservation is a part, along with its other member organizations, has been
working hard to move the powers in Lansing to act. We have gotten little action
and lots of promises. So the grassroots groups have been organizing to try to get
water to the impacted people before the situation gets any worse. We cannot
wait for the State to act. Even when they promise water deliveries it will not
happen fast enough or solve the long range problems caused by the shut offs.
People need water now and continually. Unfortunately distribution centers and
store shelves have been found to be empty as people who already have running
water have hoarded what they could find in stores. It is our hope that many will
decide to donate some of this water that they really don’t need to those
who have none.

We want to encourage people to get municipally sourced water, preferably in
large, sanitized containers, or bottled from public tap water sources where the
public has gotten some compensation for the use of the water. We would not be
surprised to find out that Nestle and others are negotiating with the state to
purchase water they grabbed from the commons for free so the state can pay for
corporate profits instead of providing public trust water directly to those in need.
The State did, after all, grant permits for that give-away to corporations, which we
are still contesting.

We hope the State will in fact directly access the fresh water in our lakes
and aquifers to deliver public water to the public now, minus the middle
stop at stockholder tables.

We ask our supporters to let us know if you have water, sanitation
materials, large containers, rain barrels or money to donate to the cause of
getting water to those shut off. Send money directly to the People’s Water
Board through its website.

The Detroit Peoples’ Water Board has two collection sites in the city, both
with close expressway access: The General Baker Institute at 15798
Livernois, and St Peters Episcopal at 1950 Trumbull Ave. To coordinate
drop-offs please call Michigan Welfare Rights Organization at 313-964-2500.
For those outside the city, please contact us and we will direct you to a
drop off spot near you or send someone to collect your donation. Teams of
volunteers are already on hand in the communities to deliver to those in

Let’s rally to save some lives.

Contact: Peggy, text or call, at 248-736-9703 or email to MCWC

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