Detroit water department plans to cut service to deadbeat customers

As many as 3000 water users per week could lose service

By Hank Winchester - Reporter

DETROIT - Customers who won't pay their bills are a big problem for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

The Local 4 Defenders first exposed how the water system is owed $118 million in unpaid bills.

Now, it appears the they're doing something about it. In an effort to collect on those unpaid bills, crews are hitting the streets and cutting services to as many as 3,000 customers a week.

"A lot of these outstanding bills are attached to vacant homes that at some point may be torn down or demolished, or what have you. But, what we're trying to do is clean that piece of it up," said Darryl Latimer, of DWSD.

We also learned that customers with some of the largest outstanding bills, including at least one church, are now working to arrange payment plans. But folks who have ignored previous warnings should know contractors are now likely headed their way to cut service.

On Monday, we also discovered even more water waste as residents of an east side neighborhood told us about a broken hydrant dumping gallons of water into the street. We put calls into city officials the fire department to get this repaired as soon as possible. It's yet another example of the big problem.

"Anytime you have over 300,000 customers and you have 50 percent of them in delinquency status, that let's you know the magnitude of the problem," said Latimer.

Customers seeking a payment plan for outstanding bills should either call the water department at 313-267-8000 or visit the payment center on Randolph Street in downtown Detroit.

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