Residents in Detroit are experiencing conditions that would not be considered humane in foreign countries where the US provides aid. The City of Detroit is shutting off around 3,000 customers' water each week for unpaid bills as small as $150. US Today reported Friday that some protesters attempted to block the technicians who were shutting off the water and were arrested. In downtown Detroit, over 1,000 people were protesting, carrying various placards that claimed water was a basic human right. The city maintains that anyone with a true financial need has resources at their disposal.
The situation in Detroit is already far from ideal, and the city itself is badly in debt. Rates have been increased to cover the many customers who are behind on their bills. The reality of this situation is that in the heat of summer, cutting off access to water is dangerous. Having no water translates to no drinking water, no water with which to cook and no water to wash dishes and utensils. On an even more unpleasant note, this means no water to flush commodes. These shut-offs are not just affecting adults; imagine a household of several children when the water is shut off.
If the water problem were in a foreign country, the situation would be addressed by United States foreign aid. If you peruse the USAID website, you will see the massive monetary expenditures made by the United States in foreign nations, often to deal with water and sanitation issues. What do you think? Is access to clean water and sanitation a basic human right?
The judge overseeing Detroit’s bankruptcy case, Judge Steven Rhodes, rebuked the city and described the situation as bad publicity that they did not need. It is unthinkable that American citizens would be denied water in the hottest part of summer while our tax dollars go oversees to bring water to other countries. This situation may go from bad to worse as the heat of the summer continues.