The right to water is the right to life. Yet, according to the Detroit Water Brigade, 40% of Detroit’s population is having their water shut off. Not only do these people not have water to drink, but they are unable to wash their clothes, their dishes, themselves. Children in these homes are forced to go to school dirty, facing ridicule, and can be taken from their parents, as a house without water is deemed an unfit place to raise a child. People who are already unable to pay the inflated Detroit’s water bill, are forced to endure a daily struggle to find water.
While I was aware of water shutoffs in Detroit prior to this program, this Tuesday’s seminar really opened my eyes to the gravity and injustice of the situation. In this video, you can see a family resisting their water getting shutoff because someone is pregnant in their family and it is during Ramadan. Detroit has a reputation for being slow with emergency services, but by the end of the video there are four cop cars parked out front of the house to force the family to give up their right to water. The kids even mention that only a short while they had called the cops because there was a shootout on their block, and no one came.
Coincidentally, our building’s water was shutoff today for a few hours for maintenance purposes. I filled up my water bottle and a cup of water the night before in preparation, and even so getting ready for work was a struggle. Forgoing contacts and a shower and finally rinsing the last traces of soap off my face after accidentally spilling most of my precious water on the bathroom floor, I finally made it out the door to go to work. I was lucky. The water was back on long before I got home, and what was only a slightly more eventful morning than usual was a thing of the past. This is not the case for tens of thousands of Detroit-ers who have had their water shut off for months, even years, with little to no hope of paying off the water bills that are far beyond what they can afford.