Metro Detroiters flood water fair amid water turn-offs

Many customers close to having water turned off

DETROIT – Detroit held a water fair in the Cobo Center on Saturday morning amidst a crisis in which many locals have flirted with the dangerous possibility of having their water shut off completely, due to unpaid bills.

The number of delinquent customers at the water fair rose during the moratorium. Now there's a mad rush as everyone tries to avoid having their water shut off.

Local 4's Shawn Ley started hearing individual stories before he could even reach the front door of Cobo. For example, Katina Harris, a caretaker at her home, is struggling to keep her water on.

Harris' past due bill address to "resident" came to her home, but she doesn't have the money to pay the bill and her water is dangerously close to being turned off.

"It would be hell," Harris said of her potential issue of losing her water.

Inside the fair, the line stretches the length of Cobo Center, each person with a reason why they haven't paid their water bill or why they can't pay their water bill. Others are simply there to work out confusion about their water situations.

People like Ken Hall, who owes $1,200, are hoping for some answers.

Hall owes hundreds of dollars because he turned his water on illegally after it was shut off.

"I'm hoping I can make some sort of arrangements so I can get the water put back on," Hall said.

That's what the city's water affordability event is all about.

Since the water crisis began 20,000 delinquent customers have entered into a payment plan and the same number have not, and therefore owe an average of $400.

Assistance is available, but a 10 percent down payment is required. Many people say they don't have the money to pay 10 percent; customers are given two weeks to come up with that money.

"Which gives them time to connect with DHS, Wayne-Metro and others who may be able to assist them with that down payment," said DWSD Director Sue McCormick.

So what's next? DWSD put notices on the doors of customers who are going to have their water shut off. They're hoping to hear from those customers to avoid shutting off their water.

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