Detroit to turn the water back on during coronavirus threat

March 9, 2020 | Nina Ignaczak

Prompted by concern over coronavirus, City of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced Monday that the city will end water shutoffs and restore service to customers.

The decision comes just two weeks after the Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s attorney announced the state would not declare an emergency over the water shutoffs, citing “insufficient evidence” that the shutoffs are a public health concern.

Starting Wednesday, those with discontinued service or a pending shutoff notice will be able to restore service or avoid the shutoff by calling a city hotline (313-386-9727) and paying $25. For the next 30 days, the State of Michigan will cover that fee.

“Were going to have a solution that no resident in the City of Detroit is going to have their water shutoffs due to lack of funds,” Duggan said in a press conference.

The program will last as long as coronavirus is deemed a threat, Duggan said. When the plan ends, customers will be moved into the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) or into the 10 / 30 / 50 incremental payment plan program, depending on income. More than 16,000 customers have their water on today through WRAP, said Duggan.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Director Gary Brown said department staff will begin going out and knocking on doors to more than 3,000 homes the DWSD believes have no service to announce the program.

The announcement comes a week after water activists renewed calls on the governor to place a moratorium on the waters shutoffs. Duggan renewed his opposition to the moratorium during the press conference.

“We know that a moratorium on shutoffs is a guaranteed failed policy,” he said. “Any place moratoriums on shutoffs have been implemented, huge numbers of people who could pay, stop paying because there are no consequences and that means everyone else in the city ends up with huge rate increases.”