Newsflash:
Issues End Mass Criminalization Economic and Social Justice Detroit water shut-offs condemned as threat to health
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 18:03

Detroit water shut-offs condemned as threat to health

Written by  Azeen Ghorayshi | News Scientist Health

The decision by the bankrupt city of Detroit to cut off the water supply to 80,000 homes with outstanding water bills is a public health disaster in the making, says the largest professional association of nurses in the US.

National Nurses United has called for an immediate moratorium on the shut-offs, and is leading a march in Detroit on Friday to make its demands clear.

The policy has been condemned by the United Nations as an international human rights violation.

"Nurses know the critical link between access to water and public health," said NNU co-president Jean Ross in a statement released by the organisation. "Lack of water, like unsafe sanitation, is a major health disaster that can lead to disease outbreaks and pandemics. The city must end this shut-off now."

In March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) began quietly shutting off the supply to homes with bills either 60 days overdue or with more than $150 outstanding. "What we are providing is a service," says Curtrise Garner, a representative for the department. "People don't have to go without water, but somebody has to pay for it."

In June alone, 7210 homes had their water supply cut off, but 15,276 have lost access since the policy was implemented, says Garner. The department says it is unable to estimate how that figure translates to the number of people left without water overall.

Contagious disease

But health professionals in Detroit insist that the potential to trigger a large-scale public health disaster cannot be tolerated. "This is hands-down a very serious health issue," says Marcus Zervos, head of the department of infectious diseases at Henry Ford Hospital. "If someone can't take a shower or have a functioning toilet, they'll be at risk for skin infections like staph and impetigo, and gastrointestinal illnesses like diarrhoea - all of which are contagious."

Access to clean drinking water is most crucial. According to Mia Cupp of Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, a non-profit that has been helping people pay their bills or obtain access to water, many affected residents have been collecting water at friends' houses, but others have been taking it from fire hydrants. Meanwhile, Detroit food banks have reportedly begun a "water bank" system across the city. So far it has distributed around 25,000 litres. The food giant Nestlé has donated 30,000 bottles of water.

Worryingly, the city's department of health, recently privatised because of the bankrupt government's inability to fund it, has no means of quantifying any impact on health as a result of the shut-offs. "The point is that this could be happening and there's no way to know it," says Zervos. "That's part of the problem."

While the DWSD emphasises that it has mechanisms in place to help families with outstanding bills, funds are limited, and the department says it has no intention of halting the shut-offs. "It's a new way of conducting business and we're going to continue to do it," Garner says. "We will shut off every single one."

Garner declined to comment on the potential health threat posed by the department's policy.

Link to original article from News Scientist Health

Read 3142 times Last modified on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 18:07

End Mass Criminalization Articles

Brave New Foundation - For Profit Prisons

Brave New Foundation For Profit Prisons

Henry Rollins narrates the Prison Profiteers video series profiling the powerful institutions benefiting from locking up too many people for too long. See all the vids and take action here: http://prisonprofiteers.org #prisonprofiteers

Henry Rollins On Prison Profiteers. Better Watch It.


Henry Rollins On Prison Profiteers. Better Watch It.
The Get-Rich-Quick Plan That’s Actually Killing People
Could Anyone Possibly Think This Phone Company Isn’t Horrible?
Sometimes Cops Find Your Stolen Car. Sometimes Cops Stole It.

Should It Cost Less to Get Out of Jail If You’re Rich?
We’re Being Robbed But The People Doing It Will Never Go To Prison
Mistreating People + Lobbying = More Money
 

PDA In Your State

Sign the TPP Fast Track Petitions

MoveOn.org Petition - Congress Don't Renew Fast Track

Public Citizen Petition - Congress Must Reject Fast Track Authority

MoveOn.org Petition - Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

CREDO Petition - Stop the Massive Corporate Power Grab

 

Find Your Elected Officials for Issues

Enter your zip+4 and find your elected officials. This link provides name, address and phone number

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

 

Like End Mass Criminalization on Facebook

Hand Deliver a Letter to your Senators or Representative

If your Senator(s) and/or Representative is not currently a supporter, they may not be aware that the legislation exists. Nothing sends a stronger message to a Congressional member than a personal visit to a district office by a voter with a written request for support. Phone calls and emails are incredibly important but nothing gets attention like a personal visit. Our Educate Congress page has information and a sample letter. Print the letter, sign it, deliver it.

Button-HandDeliver

School to Prison Pipeline

Abolish the SHU - CA Legislative Testimony

50 Years After I Have a Dream - We Have a New Dream Ending Mass Incarceration

Do You Think Mass Incarceration Matters? Depends Who You Are.

Dream Defenders Demand End to Racial Profiling, School to Prison Pipeline, End Stand Your Ground

Mother of CA Prisoner On Hunger Strike: The System Is Designed to Drive You Insane