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Detroit sees drastic drop in number of water shutoffs this year

5,600 currently at risk of shutoffs

DETROIT – The director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department said the city has seen a drastic drop in water shutoffs this year compared with past years.

There are 5,600 people at risk of shutoffs right now, compared with 17,000 people at risk this time last year.

In 2016, there were 50,000 people at risk of shut offs and 44,000 of those people had their water shutoff.

The DWSD said that 56 percent received shutoff notices about potential shut offs last month received immediate assistance so they could keep their water on.

Additionally, collection rates are up to 93 percent this year. In 2016, the collection rate was 77 percent.

DWSD director Gary Brown said the average residential arrearage is about $700. About 6 percent of customers are struggling to pay their bills, and 10,000 customers are on an assistance program, the DWSD said.

The shutoffs in the city have led to backlash against the water department, especially in recent years.

"We had the United Nations right here in front of the building, rightfully so, protesting about the number of Detroiters shut off," Brown said.

While the numbers have dipped compared with previous years, some people still aren't satisfied.

"Five thousand people left without water, uhh, OK, not good at all. We can do better," said Maureen Taylor, with Michigan Welfare Rights.

Brown said next year's goal is zero shutoffs.


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