Washington, D.C. — Today, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) issued the following statement regarding the decision by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to suspend its water shutoff policy for 15 days:
“Access to water is a basic human right. I applaud today’s decision to suspend water shutoffs for 15 days to enable residents to demonstrate financial hardship. This is a first step in preventing a regional public health crisis that could impact the most vulnerable among us, particularly infants and seniors.
The application of recent water shutoffs and threats have been arbitrary and inhumane, targeting many households with a clear inability to pay their bills. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department must use the moratorium period to reconsider its use of water shutoffs as a means of collection enforcement and to ensure that any future shutoffs do not proceed unless the Department has verified the accuracy of customers’ bills and confirmed their ability to pay.
I am committed to addressing the immediate crisis and ensuring Detroit residents’ long-term access to clean water at affordable rates. I am working with Michigan’s state government and the U.S. Treasury to ensure access to the state’s ‘Hardest Hit Fund,’ which can be used to provide funding for emergency water payments and infrastructure upgrades.
On July 17, I introduced H.R. 5132, legislation that would protect struggling families’ access to essential utilities during bankruptcy. On July 25, I will introduce new legislation to reinstate the successful ‘Build America Bonds’ program that enables cities, including Detroit, to affordably finance improvements to water systems and other infrastructure.”