Community organizers fight for affordable water legislation

There's a push for state lawmakers to make water more affordable for everyone.

Their argument is that cheaper water rates would allow more people to pay.

Nicole Hill, a Detroit resident, described how she handled not having running water inside her home.

"I've literally recycled water before," said Hill.

In fact, she said her water was shutoff not once, but twice last year, and hopes it never happens again.

"You have to make (a decision) everyday," she said. "Should I cook this not, because the water may evaporate cause I'm boiling food."

Hill is not alone. She and thousand of Detroiters have had their water shutoff or have received a shutoff notice.

Hill shared her story at a gathering of hundreds of social movement organizers who met in Detroit to find ways to handle what they say is a denial
of affordable water.

"This is the new civil rights movement of our era that everybody should have water," said Atty Alice Jennings, an organizer.

Organizers say their efforts during the conference will get the ball rolling to draft state and federal legislation on water rights.

"We are specifically targeting the need for legislation; both nationally for a water affordability and safe water bill," said Jennings. "We are in the process of preparing a bill in Lansing for water affordability."

But city officials say they are combating the water shutoff issue in the city and they have the numbers to prove it.

Last year at this time city officials say more than 40,000 residential accounts met the water shutoff criteria and received shut off notices.

But today less than 20,000 are in shut off status, and city officials say they credit the Detroit Water and Sewage Department's payment plans for the improvements.

These activists, however, argue that more needs to be done, and say their efforts won't stop until everyone has access to affordable water.

"It's not acceptable to keep having water shutoffs when we can provide water in the Great Lakes to everybody," said Sylvia Orduno, an organizer.

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