DETROIT – At 8:30 a.m. on Monday, September 22nd, at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (231 West Lafayette Blvd), Judge Steven W. Rhodes will conduct an evidentiary hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop water shutoffs in Detroit.

Witnesses including Detroit residents at risk of shut off, public health officials, an economist, and nonprofit members are expected to testify on behalf of plaintiffs in the ongoing litigation about the dire personal and public health consequences of the water shutoff campaign that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has been undertaking.

In an effort to preserve a moratorium on water shut-offs, a group of Detroit residents and civil rights attorneys filed court documents asking the judge to block the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) from terminating water service to any occupied residence and to require the restoration of service to occupied residences without water. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund and ACLU of Michigan are serving as expert consultants in the ongoing litigation.

Last month, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU of Michigan wrote a letter to city officials arguing that the poorly implemented and uneven DWSD shut-off policy violates the civil and human rights, as well as the due process rights, of residents because it often fails to provide them with adequate notice and a hearing that takes into account whether they actually have the ability to pay.

Click here to read the motion for a temporary restraining order asking a judge to stop water shut-offs; the letter from the NAACP LDF and ACLU of Michigan to DWSD expressing concerns about the manner of the shut-offs; and read FOIA documents produced by DWSD. 

WHAT:
Judge Steven W. Rhodes will conduct an evidentiary hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction to stop water shutoffs in Detroit.

WHO:
County officials, health professionals and experts will testify about potential public health hazards, financial mismanagement at the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and systemic issues that have contributed to the excessively high balances DWSD is now trying to collect, including:

  • Nicole Hill and Rosalyn Walker, DWSD customers at risk of shut-off and plaintiffs in ongoing litigation. Both women are featured in When the Water Runs Dry: Voices from the Detroit Water Crisis, a video produced by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU of Michigan.
  • Maureen Taylor, state chair of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, and Monica Lewis Patrick, co-founder of We the People of Detroit, who will talk about their organizations’ efforts to assist Detroit residents affected by service shutoffs. 
  • Roger Colton, an economist and utility expert who focuses on affordability and who developed the Detroit water affordability plan in 2005, although his plan was never fully implemented by DWSD.
  • George Gaines, former Deputy Director of the Detroit Department of Health. He is expected to outline the potential risk of spread of disease and sickness in Detroit due to mass water shutoffs.

Additionally, other experts may testify about financial mismanagement and systemic issues that have contributed to the excessively high balances DWSD is now trying to collect, and nurses and other health professionals may testify to the potential public health hazard created by shutting off water to city residents, particularly at the start of the school year.

WHEN:
Monday, September 22nd at 8:30 a.m.

WHERE:
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan

231 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226