detroit water

Members of the so-called "Homrich 9" before their initial trial.
Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Why has a criminal misdemeanor case involving seven Detroit protesters been stalled for nearly nine months?

Those defendants and their lawyers want to know, and in a letter sent to Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hathaway, they petition him to resolve the case “promptly.”

The defendants, part of the self-proclaimed “Homrich 9,” had briefly blocked contractors’ trucks tasked with shutting off water to Detroit homes.

A Detroit water shutoff notice
Ali Elisabeth / Michigan Radio

With all the attention paid to water issues in Michigan thanks to the Flint water crisis, the Detroit News highlighted another problem in the city of Detroit: water shutoffs.

Joel Kurth’s article begins with the following:

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

After months of highly unusual legal maneuvers, two Detroit protesters still don’t know if a jury will ever decide their case.

They were part of a group, dubbed the “Homrich 9,” arrested for protesting Detroit’s mass water shutoffs in the summer of 2014. They had tried to block trucks that were charged with carrying out the shutoffs.

Two defendants, Reverend Bill Wylie-Kellerman and Marian Kramer, had a two-week trial on misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges in November.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Detroit's city council will consider a plan to lower the cost of water for the city's poorest residents. The plan is part of a report prepared by the council's Blue Ribbon Panel on Affordability. The panel will present its report Monday. Among the solutions it offers is a tiered rate system that would charge customers lower rates for lower consumption, and higher rates for higher amounts of consumption.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is taking new steps to reduce lead in the city’s drinking water.

Flint is adding phosphates to water it gets from Detroit. Detroit already adds phosphates to the water to make it less corrosive to pipes. 

Flint Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow says adding more phosphates to the water should help create a biofilm within the city’s water pipes. 

“That should help alleviate our lead issues out in the system,” says Glasgow.

via d-rem.org

In an unusual move, a Wayne County judge has stepped in to halt a trial in progress in a lower court.

Two Detroit activists are on trial for disorderly conduct, a criminal misdemeanor, in 36th District Court.

They were part of a group of people arrested in July 2014 for protesting Detroit’s mass water shutoffs.

The case was about to go to the jury, but city lawyers, unhappy with the proceedings, wanted a mistrial. District Court Judge Ruth Garrett denied the request.

via d-rem.org

Two Detroit activists went on trial Friday for protesting the city’s controversial water shut-off policies.

The case stems from a July 2014 protest, when nine people blocked trucks belonging to Homrich, the contractor that performs shutoffs for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A one-man effort to recall Governor Rick Snyder from office faces a big hurdle this week.

Angelo Brown says Governor Snyder deserves to be recalled because of the role his administration played in the Flint drinking water crisis.

Brown’s recall petition accuses the governor of being “culpable” in the decisions that lead to the use of corrosive Flint River water as the city’s drinking water source. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s problem-plagued drinking water is expected to play a significant role in next week’s election for mayor. 

For more than a year, people in Flint have been holding protests about the city’s tap water.  

“There’s some people in Flint, Michigan who don’t believe this water is safe,” Pastor Alfred Harris told a crowd at one protest at Flint city hall a few months back. 

Along with complaints about rising lead levels and other problems, many have been calling for changes at city hall.

Paul Hitzelberger / United Photo Works

The new regional authority in charge of southeast Michigan’s water is set to choose a leader Monday.

The Great Lakes Water Authority emerged from Detroit’s bankruptcy process. It essentially regionalizes Detroit’s water system, which has long served most of southeast Michigan.

wikipedia

A group of activists protesting water shutoffs in Detroit and water quality issues in Flint wrapped up a 70 mile walking journey between the two cities this week.

Members and supporters of the Detroit People's Water Board Coalition are calling on Michigan lawmakers to end shutoffs and implement an income-based water affordability plan.

Kate Boicourt / IAN

The Detroit City Council will reconsider whether to raise the city’s water rates, after the state treasurer warned that could trigger greater state oversight of the city’s finances.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost and quality of tap water in Michigan cities is the subject of a week long journey starting in Detroit today.

Activists, led by the The Detroit People’s Water Board Coalition, are upset about water shutoffs in Detroit and the quality of Flint’s troubled water system.

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Detroiters behind on their water bills have a new place to turn for help.

The Heat and Warmth Fund, also known as THAW, has received a $1 million dollar donation to create a new water assistance fund.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

With water shutoffs in Detroit resuming as early as this week for some 18,000 households, activists say many officials are refusing to consider one possible solution: discounted bills for low-income residents.

Otherwise known as an affordability program, some activists say it’s a better option than the current assistance programs – which offer temporary financial help only after people are already behind on their water bills.

Birmingham Public Schools

Bills are headed up for customers of the state’s largest water system, after Detroit’s regional board of water commissioners approved rate hikes today.

Commission chair James Fausone says the system’s budget will stay about the same, but it has revenue requirements to meet — and customers have been using less water in recent, wet years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Cold weather will slow water shutoffs in Detroit, but not halt a nearly yearlong push to collect on past due accounts.

  Detroit Water Department spokeswoman Curtrise Garner tells The Associated Press that crews will stop disconnections only during long bouts of below freezing temperatures when the ground is too hard to reach water connections.

  Service has been disconnected to 31,300 customers since Jan. 1. A several-week moratorium allowed some customers to enter into payment plans.

Detroit skyline
Ian Freimuth / flickr.com

Members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission heard testimony in Detroit this week from citizens who are struggling to secure affordable water and housing.

Nicole Hill is a Detroiter who has had her water shut off twice this year. Hill says the water department tells her she owes more than $6,000 — a number she vigorously disputes.

“I have asked for a hearing, and I was told that I could possibly get a hearing date sometime in 2015,” she said.

For Mignon Jennings, the cost of her water bill has put her in danger of losing her Detroit home.

“$3,000 for a water bill for one year? That’s ludicrous. That’s crazy. And I believe something needs to be done.”

The UN panel has criticized Detroit’s policy of cutting water service to people with delinquent bills.

Panel members issued recommendations on the situation Monday. They also met with Mayor Mike Duggan.

Duggan's chief of staff, Alexis Wiley, defended the administration's response to the water shutoffs, pointing out that the number of customers on payment plans has almost doubled to about 33,000 since Duggan announced his 10-point plan on dealing with them in August.

Wiley said the meeting was unproductive. "Unfortunately, it became clear shortly into the meeting that the UN representatives had reached their conclusions and prepared their recommendations before the meeting had even begun," she said in a statement, that also accused the UN of singling out Detroit for criticism of a "standard practice among utilities."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A United Nations team says the city of Detroit is violating human rights by shutting off water to those who can’t pay their bills.

Some 27, 000 customers have had their water cut off during the first nine months of 2014. Detroit launched the water shutoff program as part of efforts to deal with the city’s financial problems.  

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss Detroit’s water shutoffs, Detroit Public School’s emergency manager and updates from the campaign trail.

I once knew an opinion pollster who told me he could usually determine how anyone was going to vote without ever asking who they were going to vote for.

He did this by asking a series of litmus-test type questions about someone’s life, background and beliefs.

If you were a single mom with limited income, for example, that probably indicated you were a Democrat – unless you were a fundamentalist Christian. White professional male with a six-figure income?  Likely Republican if in business, for example. But probably not if he is a nonreligious professor.

Maegan Tintari / Flickr

Water shutoffs to Detroiters who haven't paid their bills are not going to stop.

That's the result of a ruling today by federal bankruptcy judge Stephen Rhodes.

Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek says this ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by Detroit residents and activists who wanted Judge Rhodes to issue a six-month moratorium on the controversial water shutoffs.

Judge Steven Rhodes said he'll rule next Monday whether to put a temporary halt to Detroit's controversial water shutoffs.

Witness testimony continued in federal bankruptcy court Tuesday with hearings to determine the fate of that policy.

A coalition of Detroit residents and advocacy groups filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s controversial shutoff policy on constitutional and civil rights grounds.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit City Council has approved the city’s participation in the Great Lakes Water Authority.

The city of Detroit currently owns and operates most of southeast Michigan’s regional water system.

The 40-year deal lets the city retain ownership of all the water system’s assets, and Detroit keep control of day-to-day operations within city limits.

But a new Great Lakes Water Authority takes control of operations outside the city. It will lease the regional assets for $50 million a year.

User: bnosnhoj / Wikimedia Commons

A group in Detroit hopes that 158,000 signatures will be enough to persuade city officials to stop shutting off water to residents. 

The People's Water Board Coalition has been working on a petition over the summer that has three main goals: stop water shutoffs in Detroit, restore household water to those living without, and implement a water affordability plan. 

The week in Michigan politics

Sep 10, 2014
Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss how  Syncora, the biggest opponent in Detroit's bankruptcy trial, has reached a tentative agreement with the city. Fox and Lessenberry also discuss Detroit's new water authority, and what to expect from the legislature in the few weeks before the November election.

Kate Boicourt / IAN

After months of tense mediation in bankruptcy court, Detroit and suburban leaders have finally reached a deal on the city’s water system.

The 40-year agreement between the city and Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties will create the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Under the deal, Detroit will retain ownership of the whole system, and control over city operations.

The GLWA will lease and operate Detroit water system assets outside city limits. And it will pay Detroit $50 million a year to improve water infrastructure inside the city.

Ross Kuhn / via Facebook

Some Detroit residents and activists are trying to put water shutoffs on hold—again.

The Detroit water department resumed its residential water shut-off program for delinquent customers this week. It’s trying to collect more than $80 million in back payments.

The city had put the controversial program on hold for about a month, while holding water assistance fairs and giving those who struggle to pay their bills time to get on payment plans.

Detroit officials are trying to boost aid programs for people who struggle to pay their water bills--before the city starts shutting off residential customers again.

The United Way and the philanthropic arms of Ford and General Motors announced a combined $200,000 in donations to the Detroit Water Fund Monday.

That fund is designed to help eligible Detroiters pay up to 25% of their delinquent water bill.

The week in Michigan politics

Jul 30, 2014
Detroit skyline.
user JSFauxtaugraphy / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss what races and issues to follow before next week's primary election, how Detroit's emergency manager has shifted responsibilities of the city's water department to Mayor Mike Duggan after controversies for water shut offs, and recent developments with the new international bridge from Detroit to Windsor, ON.

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