Mom, small children without water for weeks because of switch to Smart Meter

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Paulina Richardson and her family haven’t had running water in two weeks.  The mother of two girls—one eight months old, the other six--says the city didn’t give her any warning. One day, it just stopped running.

"My daughter asked me why the sink wasn’t working, and I go in there and try it myself. And nothing," Richardson said. "Not a drop of water coming out. So then I come outside and my neighbor’s like, the water company shut it off."

They did it because the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department was switching Paulina over to a new Smart Meter, a more precise way of measuring just how much water she’s using each month.  But the problem, she learned, was that the old pipes in her home would need to be upgraded to fit with the new meter, and Paulina would have to pay for all of it.

"I had to hire a plumber, I had to max out my credit card," she said, saying she shelled out more than $150.

With her pipes now in upgraded,  Paulina called DWSD and asked that the meter be installed so the family could have running water again.

But DWSD told her they couldn't send out a technician for another week.

"I have children, I have babies," she said. "I have to use jugs of water to flush the toilet. I have to boil water to give my kids a bath. It’s so frustrating, it’s beyond frustrating."

When 7 Action News called DWSD to find out why the family had to wait another week, spokeswoman Curtrise Garner looked into the family’s case. Suddenly, the water department had good news to share.

"We’re able to juggle some people around in the case of an emergency," Garner said. "And with this situation here, we do have 2 young children in the home. So we were able to find a slot for her."

Late today, Paulina told 7 Action News that DWSD came out to her home hours after we contact officials. However, they say Paulina's plumber used plastic parts instead of metal ones, which aren't sufficient for her new Smart Meter. She'll need to have the plastic parts replaced before her water can be turned on.

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