City of Detroit extends moratorium on water shutoffs through 2022, plans to stop them permanently

Posted at 3:00 PM, Dec 08, 2020

DETROIT (WXYZ) — The City of Detroit is extending the moratorium on water shutoffs through at least 2022, and is planning to permanently end water shutoffs and interruptions.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Gary Brown made the announcement Tuesday afternoon amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

“My goal now is stop water shutoffs to low-income Detroiters once and for all,” Duggan said in a release. “We have secured the funding necessary to continue this effort through 2022 and we are building a coalition to make this permanent.”

According to the city, they have enough funds from existing state, federal and philanthropic organizations to help Detroiters maintain water service if they don't have the ability to pay for two years beyond the current city and state moratorium. They are urging households who can pay to continue paying.

Since March 9, the city said it has restored water service to 1,300 homes, and has helped thousands with water bills and emergency plumbing repairs. The city said by the end of the year, they expect to spend $22 million, $15 million of which was for bill credits for nearly 50,000 households.

“The water shutoff moratoriums issued by health departments end in 23 days,” Brown said in a release. “We have chosen to ensure that residential households that do not have the ability to pay have the resources for help and maintain service through at least 2022 while we work on permanent water affordability solutions at the state and federal levels. The infrastructure is in place through DWSD and our community partners to continue to provide compassionate and effective customer affordability programs to financially insecure Detroit households, now and through the implementation of long-term solutions.”

Also Tuesday, the city announced that former Public Health Director Dr. Abdul El-Sayed will work with the city to find new funding to prevent shutoffs for non-payment on a permanent basis.

“Water is public health. And, as a former city health director and water rights advocate, I am proud to join Mayor Duggan today as he announces the city’s intention to end residential water shutoffs permanently. This is a victory for the city, it’s residents, and the advocates who’ve been leading on this effort for years. And to achieve it, we’re going to need to align advocates with state and federal lawmakers and City leadership to find the funds. All of us against water shutoffs," El-Sayed said.

“The federal government currently actively prevents gas and electric shutoffs of low-income Americans through the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP),” Duggan added. “But there is no comparable program for water bills. We’re going to be part of a national coalition to support the efforts of Senator Gary Peters to extend utility shutoff support for water.”

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