Despite Pandemic, Thousands Still Have No Water in Detroit, a Coronavirus Hot Spot
The Detroit water department has identified 3,600 residential accounts turned off for more than a year and is in the midst of an outreach effort to ensure they are restored under a relief plan to battle against spread of the coronavirus.
Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Gary Brown discussed the status of his office’s restorative measures during a Tuesday briefing before Detroit’s City Council, saying crews have the capacity to turn on about 100 water accounts per day.
Mayor Mike Duggan teamed with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week to unveil the interim policy that went into effect Wednesday, making residents with water turned off or with cutoffs pending eligible have service restored at a discounted rate.
Brown said of the 3,600 accounts identified, officials found 800 already had new accounts, meaning a new tenant or another family member within the home had turned the water on.
Of the water department’s canvass of the addresses, about 400 were confirmed to be occupied and informed of how to call to have water restored. Officials haven’t been able to make contact with another 2,200 of the homes they visited, he said.
“We left a doorknocker on the door with the information … to be able to call and get the water on,” Brown said.
Under the new aid program, residents will pay $25 a month for water service for as long as the virus remains a threat. The first month’s payment of $25 will be covered by the state after a resident signs up.
Brown said there have been more than 5,000 calls to Wayne Metro for assistance and about 900 are eligible for immediate water restoration. About 200 had shutoff notices prior to calling. Those impending shutoffs were “voided,” and those customers were automatically entered into the state’s $25 plan, he said.
Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield has called the mayor’s new water plan “short-sighted.”
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