Detroit’s Emergency Manager Restores Control of DWSD to the Mayor

by San Antonio Attorney

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department provides services to 700,000 people and 4 million residents in the southeast of Michigan. However, it has approximately $6 billion in debt.

Officials of the water system started a massive shut down campaign in March, cutting supply to 500 customers each month. About 7,500 customers have lost service in April and May.  The largest number of disconnection was 7,200 in June and it accrued $800,000 a few weeks ago as compared to $150,000 in the same month last year.

The disconnections of service forced several groups to ask help from the U.N. Three experts from the organization said the aggressive action may have violated the right of the people to have access to water.

A board of commissioners currently manages the city’s water system. But in the past, the entity reported to former mayors prior to Kevyn Orr’s appointment as emergency manager last year. Orr’s job is to oversee Detroit’s finances and majority of its operations.

Detroit’s bankruptcy trial is scheduled to begin in mid-August.

Orr has ordered to return water system control to the office of the mayor.

Recently, the federal judge of the city’s bankruptcy said the widespread shutoffs of water supply were causing bad publicity. After that, the water officials announced they were putting off the disconnections to teach customers about payment plans.

Mayor Mike Duggan has taken issue with the shutoffs saying that officials of the water department should have been less aggressive in how they dealt with delinquent bills. He said a plan is being developed on how to deal with this problem.

Orr explained that he decided to give the controls to Duggan in order to pay attention to customer care and good management practices and help customers of DWSD settle their debts.

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