Detroit Water and Sewerage suspends controversial water shutoffs for 15 days

DETROIT (WXYZ) - The City of Detroit is implementing a "pause" on water shutoffs for 15 days effective immediately.

The city is also starting an aggressive plan to inform customers of payment and assistance options including a "Water Fair" set for August 2nd. 

This is being driven by Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes who said last week the shutoffs are a big PR problem for Detroit and a problem that can be solved. 

On Friday afternoon a thousand people took to the streets of Detroit protesting the shutoffs . Judge Rhodes took no action and called these latest plans of the city "creative". 

The city will work with clergy, senior centers, the Detroit Department of Neighborhoods, THAW and advocacy groups. But several groups came to court to litigate the shutoffs as improper and inhumane. 

Former Detroit City Council Member Joann Watson says Council years ago passed a reduced water bill system for low income customers based on a percentage of income but it has not been used. 

DWSD Deputy Director Darryl Latimer tells 7 Action News at the end of the 15 days, the city will resume shutoffs with notice. 

"We're giving them a little time so they can get one of the [customer aide] services," Latimer said. 

The city stepped up water shutoffs starting last fall with a delinquency rate of 40% to 50%. The city has also been in closed mediation over turning the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department into a regional authority.  Past debt has been an issue for suburban officials involved in the talks.

Meanwhile, the creditors vote results on Detroit's Plan of Adjustment are due to be disclosed today. 

Heather Lennox of Jones Day for the city told the judge the votes are still being tabulated - but the disclosure will be made today. 

Sources have said retirees for the city have approved the plan with the "Grand Bargain" terms that saves the city art collection from being sold and reduces pension cuts. 

RELATED: Detroit Water and Sewerage asks for help reporting running water with new app

 

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