Skip to main content

To: Governor Rick Snyder and Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr


Water is a human right and all people deserve access to safe and affordable water. I urge you to take immediate action to stop the ongoing, discriminatory, devastating attacks on Detroit's water access; restore all water services, call off the water shutoffs, and ensure fair and affordable water access for all Detroit residents by maintaining full public control of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department municipal water system.

Why is this important?

It's a crisis. The city of Detroit has unjustly shut off the water of thousands of low-income Black and brown Detroit residents, threatening their health, safety, and livelihood. And matters are only set to get worse.(1)

Residents who owe as little as $33 are having their water shut off with no warning. Seniors, the sick and injured, and families with special needs are left without running water and working toilets. People recovering from surgery cannot wash and change bandages. Children cannot bathe and parents cannot cook.

And while the people suffer, the corporations are protected. The city of Detroit provides water at wholesale price to the wealthy suburbs; however city residents pay retail price for the water they receive. The city of Detroit provides water at wholesale price to the wealthy suburbs; however city residents pay retail price for the water they receive. Palmer Park Golf Course owes $422,000 the VA Hospitial $131,000, yet they continue to have water.(2) As well, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr gave Gov. Snyder a pass on the Michigan's $4.5 million unpaid water bill of by reducing the state's debt to $113,000. Only $19,000 has been paid to date.

Entire families and their livelihoods are on the line. If parents cannot afford to restore water service within 60 days they are at risk of having Social Services remove their children from the home.(3) If water bills remain unpaid a lien can be placed on the home and the home can be sold. (4) This must stop NOW!

The plan to cut off water to 150,000 households by the end of the summer is part of efforts sell off and privatize Detroit’s water system for corporate profits.(5) In order to make the utility attractive to investors, lower-income households are being forced to pay exorbitant rates for their water and sewer services, or see their access cut. Water rates have risen in Detroit by 119% in the last decade.(6) With unemployment rates at a record high, and the poverty rate at about 40%, Detroit water bills are unaffordable to a massive portion of the community. (7)

Hundreds of thousands of low-income Black families are at risk. The city's water shut offs are in line with decades of racially discriminatory policies targeting Black and brown Detroiters, which have resulted in unjust home seizures, the separation of children from their parents, and the creation of serious health risks to entire neighborhoods.(8) By allowing thousands of people to be denied access to water and sanitation services, the U.S. government is violating the United Nations resolution codifying the human right to water and sanitation.

Show your solidarity with the people in Detroit and join Progressive Democrats for America, National Nurses United, NetRoots attendees, and local Detroit activists for a rally at Hart Plaza at 1pm on Friday, July 18th where we will make send our message loud and clear to Gov. Synder and Emergency Manager Orr.


1. "We the People of Detroit," Facebook
2. "Detroit Water Shutoffs," Politics Progressive 07-11-2014
3. See reference 1.
4. "Detroit's Water War: a tap shut-off that could impact 300,000 people," The Guardian 06-24-2014
5. "Important Tax Lien Information," Detroit Water and Sewage Department
6. "What Happens When Detroit Shuts Off the Water of 100,000 People," The Atlantic 07-17-2014
7. See reference 3.
8. See reference 5.
9. See reference 3.
10."Against Austerity in Detroit: 'Water Is a Human Right'" The Nation 07-11-2014

Detroit, MI, United States

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL



2014-07-17 22:24:41 -0700

1,000 signatures reached

2014-07-17 14:46:30 -0700

500 signatures reached

2014-07-16 10:40:33 -0700

100 signatures reached

2014-07-16 10:08:24 -0700

50 signatures reached

2014-07-16 09:50:33 -0700

25 signatures reached

2014-07-16 09:09:31 -0700

10 signatures reached