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article imageDetroit reaches out to the UN as water runs dry

By Ryan Hite     Jun 24, 2014 in Environment
Detroit - The city of Detroit is shutting off water to over half its residents because of the shortfall in bill payments. This has prompted many to consult the U.N. for human rights violations.
A group of activist groups took a rare step Monday and appealed to the United Nations over reports that the cash-strapped city of Detroit is leaving residents without access to water.
The appeal came to the U.N.’s special rapporteur after many reports that nearly half of the Detroit Water and Sewerage customers are behind on their bills and owe the department about $118 million total. The department has reportedly started to shut off water to these customers.
Beside the amounts due, the city council last week approved raising rates for customers by more than $5 per month, The Detroit Free Press said. The additional funds would help repair the old system, the department said.
"I don't feel that residents should have to bear the burden of an increase right now,” Councilwoman Mary Sheffield told the paper.
Maude Barlow, who put together the appeal, said that if the U.S. does not respond to a U.N. intervention, it could impact its U.N. Universal Periodic Review. The review keeps records of all member states and the human rights obligations.
The Hamilton Spectator summed up the news of these reports: "Desperate calls for help from the United Nations aren’t just for war-torn and developing nations anymore."
The water department announced in March that it would go forward with shutting off water service to more than 150,000 delinquent users, or about half its customers, The Detroit Free Press later reported.
The department wants the customers to make up for the $118 million in outstanding bills, the report stated.
"We do have programs that do help those that are just totally in need; can’t afford it," Curtrise Garner, a water spokeswoman, told local CBS affiliates. But, according to her, there are also people who can afford to pay the bill and who do not want to. "We know this because, once we shut water off, the next day they are in paying the bill in full. So we do know that that has become a habit as well," she said later.
Kevyn Orr, the emergency manager for the city, told The Detroit Free Press that he is exploring the privatization of the water department
More about Detroit, Detroit Bankruptcy, Detroit water, detroit UN
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