Detroit’s Water – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Detroit’s Water

Hi all,

Week 9 has come and gone, and I feel like I’m finally starting to get my head around some of the bigger issues at play in the city of Detroit.

After spending some time at the Riverfront this weekend (at the MoPop concert) and seeing how beautiful it is that so many people can live in such proximity to such natural beauty — the river. The water on Sunday was just so blue, and smelled fresh and amazing. Sometimes the craziness of the big city and the strength of the hot summer sun can make me forget that we are in a city that has probably the greatest source of freshwater of any large industrial city in the world.

Then, I went to work on Monday and spent the day working with the “Water Team” (the Water Residential Assistance Program). I went on a home visit with my co-worker Maria, and we were trying to help a woman save money on her water bill. I’ve always taken water for granted, because it’s always been there when I wanted it. For many of the people in the Water Residential Assistance Program, they can no longer afford to do this. And in the city of Detroit, for many, many years this wasn’t the case. But a recent crackdown on people who have outstanding water bills have left people searching for solutions.

We were first met by a young woman who at first seemed disinterested in our water-saving program, which was frustrating because it is a free program that is almost guaranteed to save the resident hundreds of dollars a year if they listen to our tips and use the materials we were giving her.

But we eventually broke through to her, and she allowed us to look at her toilets and we found a leak in both of them. I had to fix a toilet leak, which was not easy for me (I don’t have much experience in this area). An older gentlemen who was also in the house was very grateful for us finding these leaks, which felt good after two hours spent in a smelly hot basement.

But I found myself a little bit frustrated with the experience, because I know that there is so many people out there who don’t know these simple tips to save money and check toilet leaks, mostly because they haven’t had to worry about where their water is coming from for most of their lives. Obviously, our staff of 4 people on the water team cannot possibly help all of the people in the city who are struggling to save on their water bill, so how do we help all the other people that the water team can’t get to? Because for a lot of people, their struggles with their water bill are not getting better. So how do we combat this problem? How do we reach the widest audience, and get them to trust the things the EcoWorks team is saying? I’m still thinking about these questions because I don’t have a great answer right now.

Well, hope everyone’s last week is awesome and GO TIGERS!



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