Detroit water: Affordability fair flooded with customers

Mayor Duggan constructing plan for water turn-offs

By Shawn Ley - Reporter

DETROIT - The end of the water shut-off moratorium is Monday, so the DWSD affordability fair is a critical event for customers. Long lines and protestors crowd the fair, along with police to make sure no one loses their cool over water.

"They said I owe $1,500," said Yvonne Ogburn, who was at the fair on Saturday.

The affordability fair is where people find out how complicated the water issue is for the city and its customers. Ogburn was at the fair to argue that she has been overcharged. She isn't paying the $1,500 bill and now she's late on that bill.

She wants to pay for the water she used.

The turnout Saturday at the fair reflects how deep the water problem runs. Every customer service agent is busy, and the waiting room is full, the line out the door and down the block.

Some think the event is too big and should be held at Cobo Hall, offering more financial assistance for those in need.

So far, 17,000 delinquent customers have been cut off. Last year, 24,000 customers were cut off.

The issue is now receiving national attention as the city gets organized under bankruptcy protection, an emergency manager and a new mayor. City officials admit that better customer service is needed to get problems and payments, payment help and payment plans moving forward.

"It's one more opportunity to enter into a payment plan and get information and help if you need it," said Alexis Wiley, Mayor Duggan's Chief of Staff.

Shawn Ley has been told that Mayor Duggan is getting his plan together on how to handle the water turn-offs and will present that plan next week.

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