U.N. Indicates Detroit’s Water Shut-Offs a Human Rights Violation

Detroit Water Shutoffs from Kate Levy on Vimeo.

This summer, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced that it would increase its shut-off campaign to 3,000 shutoffs per week.

Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation says:

“Disconnection of services for lack of means to pay may constitute a violation of the right to water. Disconnection due to non-payment is only permissible if it can be shown that the householder is able to pay but is not paying—in other words, that the tariff is affordable.”

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann, Detroit organizer, sent me this note:

Friends, the watershed in Detroit is crying out. We are working full force against the water department shutting off up to 150,000 homes in the city by September (this is 40% of households). They have already shut off thousands of families. No drinking water, no bathing, no flushing toilets. With no running water, there is a risk of child protective service taking children away from their parents. It is a human rights issue, a privatization of water issue, a health issue, and a watershed issue. The U.N. has responded to the crisis saying that this is a violation of human rights.

For more information:
Detroit ‘must ensure it does not contravene human right to water’ UN official Catarina de Albuquerque says
Detroit’s Water War: a tap shut-off that could impact 300,000 people
UN Declares Detroit Water Shutoffs Violate Human Rights
Going Without Water in Detroit
Submission to the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation regarding water cut-offs in the City of Detroit, Michigan

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