Activists in Detroit have begun lobbying the United Nations to step in and solve the city’s water troubles, in which half of residents cannot or are not willing to pay their water bills on time.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department spokeswoman Curtrise Garner said it’s not the department’s goal to shut off people’s water, but bills need to be paid.
“We want people’s water on, just like they do; but you do have to pay for your water. … That’s the bottom line,” she told CBS’s Detroit affiliate.
“We do have programs that do help those that are just totally in need; can’t afford it — but we also know that there are also people who can’t afford it would can not pay and 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.
Miss Garner said nearly half of Detroit Water and Sewerage customers don’t pay their bills, which has led activists to lobby the U.N. to step in, the station reported.
In a letter sent to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, local nonprofit Detroit People’s Water Board, Food and Water Watch and Canada-based Blue Planet Project accused the city of violating the “right to water.”
“The U.S. has international obligations in terms of people’s right to water, and this is a blatant violation of that right,” said Meera Karunananthan, an international campaigner with the Blue Planet Project, Al Jazeera America reported. “We’re hoping the U.N. will put pressure on the federal government and the state of Michigan to do something about it.”