This video from the USA says about itself:
24 June 2014
Activists in Detroit have appealed to the United Nations over the city’s move to shut off the water of thousands of residents. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department says half of its 323,000 accounts are delinquent and has begun turning off the taps of those who do not pay bills that total above $150 or that are 60 days late. Since March, up to 3,000 account holders have had their water cut off every week.
The Detroit water authority carries an estimated $5 billion in debt and has been the subject of privatization talks. In a submission to the United Nations special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, activists say Detroit is trying to push through a private takeover of its water system at the expense of basic rights. We speak to Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and Meera Karunananthan, international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project.
“In Michigan it is particularly egregious because a household that has welfare involvement and water is turned off with minor children in the home, means that protective services can come in and take the children out and put them in foster care,” Taylor says. “This is an orchestrated attack by banks and corporations…in an effort to try to enrich themselves.”
From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Thursday 26th June 2014
Several groups concerned about Detroit residents who had their water shut off for nonpayment had taken the unusual step of appealing to the UN for support in an effort to force the restoration of service.
The organisations sent a letter to the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner last week saying that mass water shutoffs were leaving poor people and families at risk in the city, which is attempting to emerge from the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.
“Disconnections due to non-payment are only permissible if it can be shown that the resident is able to pay but is not paying,” human right to water and sanitation expert Catarina de Albuquerque replied in Geneva.
“In other words, when there is genuine inability to pay, human rights simply forbid disconnections.”
The US has signed, but not ratified, many of the relevant treaties on the right to safe water access.
The groups that wrote to the UN — Blue Planet Project, Food & Water Watch, Detroit People’s Water Board and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organisation — are also concerned about possible privatisation of the water department, which is responsible for about $6 billion of the city’s $18 billion debt and is one of the major issues in the bankruptcy.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department had said it would be more assertive toward delinquent customers and about 46,000 cut-off notices were sent out in May, with service to 4,500 customers cut over the past few weeks.
However, more than half of those paid the accounts in full within a day or two and another 17,000 are currently on payment plans.
But about 90,000 customers still have unpaid bills to the tune of about $90 million.
Detroit People’s Water Board member Tom Stevens said the groups had approached the UN hoping to get “international legal recognition of the violation of human rights.”
Their letter calls on the city to restore water services immediately and abandon any further cut-offs.
Tell Detroit to turn the taps back on: Water is a human right! Internet petition is here.
An agency of the United Nations issued a statement Wednesday condemning the shutoff of water to thousands of residents of the city of Detroit: here.
The drive by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr to shut off water service to three thousand households every week is in full swing, spelling catastrophe for the approximately 150,000 Detroit households with overdue water bills. The water shutoffs, a measure of almost unspeakable cruelty, are pushing the most vulnerable layers of the population in America’s poorest large city even further into misery and desperation: here.