Detroit Caucus Speaks on DWSD Water Issues

Legislators discuss concerns for residents, inadequate warning system
Thursday, March 2, 2017

DETROIT — Members of the Detroit Caucus spoke out today regarding the recent boil water advisory issued to area residents concerning their drinking water. The Detroit Water and Sewage Department issued a warning Tuesday night providing vague boundaries for the alert, but did not give full details of the locations affected by the alert until late Wednesday morning.

“Detroit provides water to several other municipalities throughout our region,” said state Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), Detroit Caucus chairwoman. “The residents across our state that rely on our city deserve fresh water, quality service and the right to be notified in a timely manner when concerns regarding safety arise. It seems ill-timed to many of the Detroit Caucus members that there were a number of layoffs at the Detroit Water Authority recently, and that soon afterward when an emergency arose, the right alerts were not issued in a timely manner. When hospitals are unable to provide treatment to patients, or students are unable to receive instruction because schools are closed, that’s a problem. It is important that those concerned expressed themselves clearly and quickly. We will fight to prevent another water crisis from taking place in our city.”

“Although the Great Lakes Water Authority seems to have done a better job of notifying residents, we still had confusion in parts of the city about who was and wasn’t affected, meaning a lot of people were drinking water they should not have been,” said Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “The advisory of the past few days is a clear reminder that our water infrastructure, access and public notification issues continue in Detroit and throughout Michigan. We need to do better.”

Both Rep. Chang and Rep. LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit) have hosted water quality town halls in the past, and assert that access to safe, clean water is one of the city’s most pressing concerns. Rep. Chang had the opportunity to meet with representatives from the DWSD last summer and discuss, among other things, the need for a better notification system for residents.

“We must protect our most vulnerable citizens — our seniors,” said Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit). “Many of them don’t have access to the internet, so I’m concerned how many of them were properly notified. Unfortunately over the last several years low-income residents across the state — particularly in Flint and Detroit — have been forced at various times to pay for tainted, undrinkable water. We need to take a stand against this kind of injustice. It is important that the city and state have a plan in place to reimburse residents for non-usage of water after a 48 hour period. No one should be paying for undrinkable water.”