Detroit Water Crisis: Judge Refuses To Stop Shut-Off, Says There Is ‘No Such Right’ As Free Water

The Detroit water crisis isn’t getting any better, it seems. The Michigan city has been shutting off water for its residents due to short supply, and now a judge reviewing the case can’t stop that from happening.

Many residents are feeling the sting as they haven’t been able to pay for their water for six months. The city’s financial strain is so tight that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has made the controversial decision not to stop utility companies from shutting off water to non-paying customers, now happening around 400 times a day.

The citizens most likely see this as a threat to their very survival because water is one of the basic necessities of life. Detroit simply can’t handle any more strain on their budget though, and Rhodes has stated about the idea of free water, “There is no such right or law.”

This follows rallies last summer from residents fighting for what they believed to be a basic human right, but the Detroit water crisis simply can’t let the people win this time, despite the appearance of The Avengers star Mark Ruffalo joining the crowd.

The judge explained that a six-month ban on water shut-offs would only make problems worse where they’re already bad enough. An appeal to the U.S. District Court would hopefully stop shut-offs for six months and give the city more time to think of a plan, but during that time, expenses would rise and so would the cost of the utility in the end. The ideal alternative would only make things worse, the bankruptcy judge pointed out.

During two days of hearings last week, a lawyer representing ten separate residents tried to convince him otherwise.

Said lawyer Alice Jennings said she was disappointed but not surprised by the judge’s decision. However, she will continue to fight it.

“We will be looking at an appeal. We believe there is a right to water and there is a right to affordable water.”

Between March and August, nearly 22,000 homes lost access to water due to the Detroit water shut-off. Out of those, a little over 15,000 had their access restored. That is around 7,000 homes in the “Motor City” which, due to either inability or refusal to pay for their increased water bill, went without.

City Attorney Thomas O’Brien claims there is only so much the Detroit water department can do without the needed funds. As much as the Detroit water crisis may be affecting the lives of thousands daily, the utility service cannot afford to give citizens free water.

Some fighting the judge’s decision claim that the cost of clean water is nowhere near as high as the city says.

It is unknown what the citizens will do upon learning this. Since protests didn’t work to convince Judge Steven Rhodes that water was a basic need, things could turn ugly.

What do you think should be done to solve the Detroit water crisis?

[Image via Occupy]

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