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water shutoffs

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A growing number of Flint water customers are being told to pay past due bills, or risk having their service shut off.

The city is under pressure to get more water customers to pay up now that state subsidies have ended and the city faces mounting costs.

A few weeks ago, the city informed 18 delinquent customers that if they didn’t pay up, their water would be cut off.  According to city spokeswoman Kristin Moore, several paid the minimum amount due to keep their water service on.  But the rest will start losing their service next week.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will start cutting off service to delinquent residential water customers next month.

The city plans to cutoff water service at two apartment complexes and 18 residential customers that are delinquent on their water and sewer bills.

A city spokeswoman says the accounts have not been paid for at least five months, and have racked up more than $2,500 to $6,000 in unpaid bills.  In some cases, the water and sewer bills haven’t been paid for years.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint residents are worried the burden of fixing their broken water system is once again falling on them.

Chanting “We don’t pay for poison water,” dozens of Flint residents filled the lobby at city hall to protest looming water shutoffs of people who haven’t been paying their water and sewer bills.   

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, a judge will hear more arguments over whether the city of Flint may resume shutting off water to delinquent customers.

Last August, Genesee Circuit Judge Archie Hayman  ordered the city to stop disconnecting water customers who didn’t pay their water bills.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, a judge will consider whether the city of Flint may resume shutting off water to people who haven’t paid their bills.

In August, Genesee Circuit Judge Archie Hayman ordered the city of Flint to stop disconnecting delinquent water customers. The judge found the city had illegally increased rates in 2011 and directed the city to rollback the 35% increase. 

Since September, Flint water customers have been paying the lower rate. But not everyone has been paying. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Beginning next month, the city of Flint plans to again disconnect water customers who aren’t paying their bills. 

The first shutoff notices are going out this week.

This summer, Judge Archie Hayman judge ordered Flint to stop shutting off water service to delinquent customers. The judge found Flint illegally raised rates by 35% in 2011. As part of his ruling, the judge ordered the city to roll back the water rates and stop disconnecting people who had run up unpaid bills under the old rate structure. 

Andrea Malone has been on and off payment plans for months.
Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Some 18,000 Detroit households could have their water shut off next week,  less than a year after the city started a program that was supposed to avoid this exact situation.

Payment plans were supposed to keep households from facing shut-offs. But those plans have shown themselves to be a failure.

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr

Detroit will start shutting off residents' water again on May 1.

Last summer, the city drew international criticism when it shut off water to thousands of households behind on their bills.

That pushed the city to get some 29,000 people onto payment plans so they could avoid shutoffs. But a lot of them are falling behind again.

Starting this week, the city says it's been leaving notices on people's doors warning their water could be shut off. There is more financial help available.

user rob zand / Flickr

Monday night "The Daily Show with John Stewart" brought attention to Detroit's controversial water shutoffs during a satirical news bit.

"Daily Show" correspondent Jessica Williams interviewed Nolan Finley of the Detroit News; Detroit Water Brigade Creative Director Atpeace Makita, and attorney Alice Jennings.

According to the Detroit News, Finley was interviewed about three weeks ago. 

Finley described how he approached the interview:

"I tried to present a complex issue as fairly as possible," he said. "They taped me for 90 minutes, looking for the 'gotcha' moment, and I'm pretty sure I probably provided it for them."

In the video, Finely's opinion strongly supports the idea that people should pay their bills and shouldn't be entitled to free water, an opinion the "Daily Show" unsurprisingly mocked.

Some tweeted their support for Finley:

In another tweet, Finley explains that during the initial taping he tried to avoid any further "gotcha" moments.

 

Makita's segment was taped Oct. 23 at the Detroit Water Brigade Headquarters and a viewing party was held last night at Anchor Bar.  You can view the full "Daily Show" interview below. (Go here if you don't see the video below.)  

The Daily Show
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 - Tifini Kamara, Michigan Radio Newsroom