Safe, Affordable Water for All: Support An Income-Based Water Affordability Plan

Safe, Affordable Water for All: Support An Income-Based Water Affordability Plan

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People's Water Board started this petition to Governor Gretchen Whitmer

2020 and still no water for all. Every human being needs water to live. Water is a sacred natural resource to be shared by all and owned by no one. Just as humanity affirms food, shelter and clothing are basic human needs, we must affirm that access to safe, affordable water is a human necessity. The United Nations (UN) states, "water and sanitation are a human right: a right to life and dignity." 

Shutting off water to homes in hardship goes beyond a moral outrage as it represents inhumane treatment to those who live in poverty. Shutting off water to people has multiple harmful impacts, including the safety and well-being of not only the families affected, but on the entire community.

Some devastating effects related to unaffordability: Without access to water: ~ Families, children, elders, and the disabled are not able to flush toilets, bathe, cook, or clean; ~ Children can be taken away by family social services;  ~ Families have lost their homes when unpaid water bills are added to their property taxes, and: ~ Water shut-offs also contribute to high foreclosure rates and costly blight. No family should live without running water, and no family should be torn a part or lose their home due to a genuine inability to afford the high cost of water bills. 

Safety and Well Being: As a result of water shut-offs there is an increase in water-related infectious diseases. The best way to prevent disease is by washing your hands. Lack of running water creates a major public health risk not only for adults and children affected by water shut-offs, but also for those that they come in contact with in the community. There is also a potential increase in lead poisoning when water is shut off and then turned back on due to stagnant water sitting in lead service lines. Lead poisoning from contaminated pipes not only affects the people who have had their water shut off but surrounding homes as well.

Over 130,000 Detroit homes have had their water shut off since 2014. There are still thousands of households affected today. Water shut-offs in Detroit occur if a family is 60 days or $150 past due. The well-known suffering of the people of Flint from undrinkable water was the result of greed and indifference to human life. Safe, accessible and affordable water is more than a Detroit and Flint problem, it is a state, national and global issue.

In 2010, the United Nations passed a resolution recognizing access to safe, affordable drinking water and sanitation as a basic human right. Sadly, the United States has not signed on to the resolution and as a result roughly 2-million Americans don’t have access to running water and basic plumbing. A UN report of 2014 indicated that by 2025, as much as two thirds of humanity could be faced with water stress/scarcity.

There is an economical, humane solution.  An income-based water affordability plan that allows families to pay rates based on their income. We need a water affordability plan in Michigan! Baltimore and Philadelphia have implemented such plans. And the mayor of Chicago has declared a moratorium on water shut-offs.  2020 Vision allows us to see the suffering in others. Let us move Michigan to also be a pioneer in declaring water as a fundamental necessity and human right.

We appreciate Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who proposed more than $120 million dollars in the FY2020 budget for new drinking water protections, and who called water “a fundamental human right.”  Michigan has introduced a Water as a Human Right Bill Package Summary. There are two bills in the Michigan legislature that would create water a affordability plan for our state: SB 240 (sponsored by Senator Betty Jean Alexander) and HB 4429 (sponsored by Representative John Cherry). 

Join us! Your signature will support the adoption of these bills. Your voice and action matters! In Michigan, communities across the state have been struggling to maintain access to this life sustaining resource for decades. We must, as a state, say no to the current inhumane policies regarding water. Together, we can change those policies to include safe, accessible, affordable water service and sanitation for all.

This petition is being sponsored by the Faith Outreach Committee of the Peoples Water Board (PWB), a coalition of organizations working together to protect our water from pollution and advocating water is a human right, a commons to be held in public trust free of privatization and all people should have access to safe, affordable water service and sanitation for all. For more information on the PWB go to: https://www.peopleswaterboard.org

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