Detroit Water Crisis Takes A Bizzare Turn, United Nations Invited To Weigh In?

Detroit has been the site of a devastating economic down turn over the past decade, with businesses leaving and many houses falling into disrepair, and being condemned. Despite 2012 campaign promises from the President Barack Obama that Detroit was alive, it sadly could not be farther from the truth. In September, The Inquisitr reported on the most recent issue plaguing the people who stuck around in the ailing city of Detroit, water shut-offs.

“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.”

In a move that has raised tensions in the city, activists have reached out to the United Nations, and monitors came to Detroit, Michigan to observe the issue. According to CBS News, the United Nations Human Rights team spent the past several days investigating the water crisis in Detroit. Leilani Farha and Catarina de Albuquerque, the United Nations Human Rights team leaders, have been trying to figure out if the the water shut-offs are “necessary.”

The United Nations team seems to feel they are not, CBS News reports.

“People are living without dignity it’s a human rights violation. the city should restore water to those unable to pay.”

Public pressure, and potential appeals have been pushing the idea that water, and inexpensive water especially, is a natural right. Protests, rallies, and celebrities have been hitting the streets to force a judges hand to force water companies to forgo the cost of water provided to residents. This could only make matters worse, as the severely distressed city would accrue more debt.

The water shut-offs peaked in March, with the number of times water had been turned off reaching 26,000. CBS News states that 85 percent of residents made partial payments within two days. Fox News reported that one unnamed council member also had their water shut off. Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan’s top aide said that the city is trying to help residents with the issue, and the United Nation’s report is one-sided.

According to Alexis Wiley, the city has been “improving customer service” and setting up residents with payment plans. BBC News states the United Nation’s report also suggested that the there was a racial disparity.


“Detroit’s low-income and African-American populations have been disproportionally impacted. Such situations go against internationally recognized human rights standards.”

CBS News reports that their are still 2,300 homes without water, and the United Nations team vows to stay in Detroit to continue to pressure the city to turn the water back on for these homes.

What are your thoughts? Was the move to bring in U.N. observers the right call? Do you feel that their is racial animus behind this issue?

[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]