Detroit residents who had their water shut off due to inability to pay will have it restored due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) announced the Coronavirus Water Restart Plan on Monday, reported FOX2 Detroit. Approximately 3,000 residents will have their water service restored, and people who received notices can disregard them. There is a $25 service restoration fee, but it will be paid by the state. After that, customers will be responsible for paying $25 per month to keep their service.
“There is no financial reason anybody in the city of Detroit should have their water shut off,” Duggan said during a press conference.
Detroiters who need their water restored must call and set an appointment for a technician to come to their home. When the outbreak is over, residents will be “phased into a plan they can afford.”
The initiative will be funded by Wayne County and the state. Michigan does not have any confirmed cases of coronavirus. Thirty-six people were tested, but their results came back negative. An additional 11 tests are pending. Frequent hand washing is considered an essential element of protection against the COVID-19 virus.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said providing access to water “the right thing to do to keep families safe and protect public health.” This is an about-face for the politician, who refused to institute a moratorium on shutoffs in February, despite pressure from activists and other critics, as reported by Metro Times.
“This is five or six years we’ve been fighting with the city officials about some kind of plan that would avoid mass water shutoffs and the coronavirus had to push this over the edge. How awful,” Maureen Taylor of the Michigan Welfare Rights told FOX2. “Seniors, low-income mothers, children, veterans, the disabled [are] living in a city surrounded by the Great Lakes without water.”
Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib openly criticized Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist before the restoration plan was announced.
“No disrespect, but I am still waiting to hear the plan that includes getting people’s water back on as this disease spreads,” Tlaib tweeted on Saturday. “Please don’t forget poor families. They deserve protection and with no access to water we are putting them in jeopardy.”
Residents who need their water turned back on are encouraged to call Wayne Metro at 313-386-9727. Customers who are currently enrolled in budget-based plans are not eligible for the restart program.