TORONTO – Is shutting off water for tens of thousands of Detroit residents behind on their bills a violation of human rights? That’s the argument a Canadian non-profit is making.

The Council of Canadians plans to bring 1,000 litres of water across the Canada-U.S. border to those living in the U.S. with no running water, as part of a symbolic rally July 24.

“The human suffering is that of a major disaster, one that grows every day,” said national chairperson of the Council of Canadians Maude Barlow in a release, who’s calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency.

“Water is a human right, and it is unacceptable in a country of plenty, surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world, that people should go without.”

But the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) remains confident that there are programs in place to help those who truly can’t afford water.

“We have never denied, and will not deny anyone water access for clean, potable water service to anyone who can demonstrate a legitimate, clear cut financial hardship, and we never will,” spokesperson Greg Eno told Global News on Monday.

“The human suffering is that of a major disaster, one that grows every day,” said national chairperson of the Council of Canadians Maude Barlow in a release, who’s calling for U.S. President Barack Obama to declare a state of emergency.

“Water is a human right, and it is unacceptable in a country of plenty, surrounded by the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water in the world, that people should go without.”

But the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) remains confident that there are programs in place to help those who truly can’t afford water.

“We have never denied, and will not deny anyone water access for clean, potable water service to anyone who can demonstrate a legitimate, clear cut financial hardship, and we never will,” spokesperson Greg Eno told Global News on Monday.

As Detroit tries to come out of the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, the city’s water department has been highlighted as a significant issue—responsible for about $6 billion of the $18 billion debt.

 

resisting
40% of Detroit is about to have their water shut off –

The Detroit Water and Sewage Department is conducting mass water shut offs in Detroit Michigan which will effect over 120,000 account holders over a 3 month period (June-September 2014) at a rate of 3,000 per week. This accounts for over 40% of customers who are using the Detroit Water system and has been dubbed a violation of Human Rights by various organizations. 70,000 of those accounts are residential accounts which could amount to anywhere from 200,000-300,000 people directly effected.

Without water..

..dehydration becomes an immediate threat to Detroit residents. A lack of clean and drinkable water on a scale of this size can effect not only the person but the entire city almost immediately. The onset of dehydration is 1-2 days, which, if left untreated can result in death in as little as 5-14 days from the onset. Making sure Detroit residents have a supply of clean drinkable water is our top priority.

detroitSanitation is the second concern. With lack of water for basic things like waste removal, food preparation and cleanliness of food preparation tools, disease can become a threat factor in a matter of weeks, if left unchecked disease can spread in 2 months time.

Without water, the threat to the health and safety of Detroit residents becomes immediate, the resulting negative effects of mass water shut offs begin just 2 days after shut off and can become endemic in just 60 days time. When taking the scope into account (120,000 water accounts or 300,000+ people ) the implications become clear; this is a disaster zone – and immediate relief and preparation is needed.

Together, we’re doing something about it – here’s 8 ways we’re creating an impact and how you can help from anywhere in the world:

Drinkable Water
Over the next 18 months we’re stockpiling water by the bottle and by the gallon at our Detroit office and empowering local non-profits to do the same, in order to combat dehydration. How you can help: Donate Goods to one of our resource hubs, online or in person.

Rain Water Collection
We’re stockpiling affordable rainwater collection systems in order to provide potable water, and water for sanitary use, in order to combat discomfort and the potential for disease. How you can help: Donate Goods to one of our resource hubs, online or in person.

water3Cold Weather Gear
With lack of running water comes a lack of circulating heat, so we’re loading up on cold weather gear to distribute to residents during the cold weather months. Here’s how you can help: Donate Goods to one of our resource hubs, online or in person.

Helpful Information
We’re writing and publishing documents on the best ways to insulate a home and body, how to bleed a water and heating system, and how to get assistance. Here’s how you can help: Volunteer to write with the DWB.

Advocacy & Awareness
We’re advocating for Detroit residents, and spreading the news about Detroit water crisis both on the ground in Detroit and online around the county. Here’s how to help: Spread the word through social media, volunteer to write articles for the DWB or volunteer on the ground.

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Distribution Hubs
We’re creating a network of resource distribution hubs in Detroits 7 districts in by partnering with local non-profits and religious establishments. Here’s how to help: Do you have a home or building with space, a non-profit with Detroit based headquarters or a religious establishment with space? If so, become a resource distribution hub in one of Detroits 7 districts.

Resource Delivery
We’re creating a network of local and visiting volunteers to deliver resources to the most vulnerable residents including the elderly and disabled. Here’s how to help: Sign up to volunteer on the ground in Detroit.

Online DWB Network

The DetroitWaterBrigade.org is also a complete stand alone social network which simplifies volunteer networking and group planning.

Here’s how to help: Join the DWB Network (Note: advanced options for organizations – application to join the DWB inter-oganizational council coming soon for existing organizations working in relation to the shutoffs on the ground in Detroit )