Guyette: Differences exist between water 'payment plan' and 'affordability plan'

Aug 29, 2014 at 11:02 am

If state law doesn't allow for the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department to implement a water "affordability plan" then an effort must be made to change the law, says Curt Guyette, investigative reporter at the ACLU of Michigan. 

In a piece at Guyette's "Democracy Watch" blog, he says the solutions put forth by Mayor Mike Duggan's 10-point plan to address water shutoffs will help some residents, but the "problem isn't going away." Guyette writes:

At Saturday’s Cobo event, some of the people I talked with said they thought the payment plan they were being put on would be manageable. Others said that Duggan’s much-touted approach provided only a temporary reprieve. If they couldn’t afford to pay their water bill before, a number of these people said, what made officials think they could pay their current bills plus a portion of their past bills, as the plan requires, going forward? Still, they scrambled to come up with the 10 percent down just to keep the water flowing for the time being. Perhaps they are simply forestalling the inevitable, but water would at least keep flowing for the time being.

That's why, as Guyette notes, some have asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes in court to issue a temporary restraining order and halt the shutoffs, again. And, even if DWSD is correct in asserting that a water affordability plan isn't legal, something that's been touted by activists as an adequate solution to the ongoing problem, then the law should be reworked, Guyette writes. 

"Either way, until that question is definitively answered, the need for continuing the moratorium — and restoring service to people who have had their water shut off already — is absolutely clear," he writes.