Don’t Deny Water to Detroit Residents


Target: President Barack Obama

Goal: Ensure that Detroit residents have access to water

The city of Detroit has been spiraling downward in many areas for some time, and the hits just keep coming: many residents of Detroit have recently found themselves without water.  Sign the petition and tell President Obama to ensure that clean drinking water is accessible to all.

The United Nations has deemed access to water to be a basic human right and has declared the numerous shut-offs in Detroit to be a human rights violation. The only time shut-offs are warranted, it says, is when customers are capable of paying but are refusing to do so. For many in Detroit, this is not the case. One woman claims that she has spent “most of [her] food budget” on water, but she still must pay more than $4,000 of her $6,000 outstanding bill before her water will be turned back on. She has sent her children to live with their grandmother and must shower at friends’ houses.

The UN’s Leilani Farha points out that the water supply crisis could have even further repercussions, as families without water risk having their children removed by social services for lack of adequate housing.

The Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD), which is billions of dollars in debt and depends on customer payments for about a third of that money, has openly voiced its willingness to work with residents and develop feasible payment plans. However, the large scale of the shut-offs has left the department out of its depth and unable to meet the needs of so many residents. Water prices in Detroit are double the national average and have recently risen by a further nine percent, making payment even more difficult for many people.

Outside help is clearly needed to ensure that Detroit residents do not spend the hot summer months without water. Sign the petition and urge President Obama to work with the United Nations and the DWSD to ensure that no citizen of Detroit is deprived of his or her right to access water.


Dear Mr. President,

Today, in one of the richest nations on earth, we are facing a problem usually associated with the world’s poorest countries. As the summer heat descends upon the city of Detroit, thousands of residents have been left without access to water. The fact that a humanitarian crisis like this exists in the United States, the supposed leader of the free world, is a travesty and must be remedied immediately. I urge you to work with the United Nations and the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) in an effort to ensure that no resident of Detroit is forced to live without water, the most basic of human needs.

According to the United Nations, the only permissible reason to shut off a person’s water is if that person is capable of paying but refuses to do so. The situation in Detroit, where shut-offs have left thousands without access to water for cooking, drinking, bathing, or even flushing toilets, has largely come about due to the fact that many people in the city are simply unable to pay. While the DWSD has declared its willingness to work out payment plans with residents whose water has been shut off, the department is out of its depth in the face of such a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Further assistance is required.

I urge you not to let the people of Detroit go thirsty this summer. Please do all you can to work with the UN and DWSD to ensure that water is available to all.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: david takes photos via Flickr

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