Detroiters encouraged pay water bills to avoid shut off in April

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The City of Detroit will resume shutting off water service for customers who have fallen behind on their bills. More than 17,000 Detroit households could face the water shutoffs.

"One person shut off is too many. That's what we're trying to avoid," says Gary Brown, the director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. 

The city says they will send notices in two weeks. First, delinquent commercial customers will receive the notice, then residential.

"The law says they can be a day and a dollar delinquent and their eligible for shutoff, but we give them at least two months, sometimes three," Brown says.

Brown says the notices will come by mail, then with door knocks. Shutoffs are expected by the end of April.

Brown says while the number of Detroiters that could face shutoff seems very high, he says in years past about 90 percent of them took care of the problem.

"We want them to come in before they get shut off."

Brown says he only expects roughly 2,000 people's water to be shut off, as most work out a payment plan. Brown says the agency usually makes three attempts to notify such customers before disconnecting services, but will make a fourth attempt this year.

But many activists -- like the folks with Hydrate Detroit -- continue to oppose the potential shutoffs. The folks with Hydrate Detroit say the city needs to look into providing water relief as a way to solve affordability issues, assuring Detroiters they will assist with any shutoffs.

Meanwhile, Brown says if anyone needs help paying their bills just ask before it gets turned off. 

"They just refuse to open their bill. It's the only excuse for someone to be shut off. They haven't opened the bill."