On December 31st, 2022 at 11:59pm, the state-wide water moratorium is set to expire, meaning that residents will become subject to water shutoffs.


"The Detroit water shutoffs are inextricably tied to larger forces seeking to reshape the city in an image that doesn’t include its poorest residents." -Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan 

Designer Notebook

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  • 1 out of every 7 households in the city of Detroit  have had their water shut off.

  • January to July 2019, there were more than 11,000 water shut-offs in Detroit according to data provided by the city's Water and Sewage Department

  • Homes hit the hardest by covid were homes in low income areas with most of the cities water shutoffs!

  • Although there has been assistance through covid with water being turned on and residents only having to pay $25 a month to keep water running, this is only a temporary fix.

  • Water shutoffs is a problem that predates covid, starting in 2013 when the city went bankrupt and cracked down on unpaid water bills.

  • Since then, programs like the water residential assistance program (WRAP), which is a program that makes it possible for residents to receive some type of assistance for a period of time until they can better their financial situation, does not help the majority of the people living in chronic poverty and financial hardship.


  • In 2014 the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD) commenced the largest residential water shutoff in U.S. history and terminated water service to over 20,000 Detroit residents for lack of payment

  • Water shutoffs are far more likely to occur in majority-Black neighborhoods than in neighborhoods where Blacks are less than 50% of the population.



1. Not having enough water affects energy levels and brain function


  •  A study in young women found that fluid loss of 1.4% after exercise impaired both mood and concentration. It also increased the frequency of headaches.

  • A similar study in young men found that fluid loss of 1.6% was detrimental to working memory and increased feelings of anxiety.

  • Fluid loss of 1–3% can easily occur through normal daily activities, let alone during exercise or high heat.


The Harvard Medical School Special Health Reports that water has many important jobs such as.


  • Carrying nutrients and oxygen to your cells.

  • flushing bacteria from your bladder

  • Aiding digestion

  • Normalizing blood pressure

  • Stabilizing heartbeat

  • Protecting organs and tissues

  • Maintaining electrolyte balance


Upward Curve

This plan was developed by members of communities currently struggling with water that is not affordable to all in their communities. To be effective, the authors believe that all ten points are necessary in a water affordability plan. As such, we ask that any reproduction of this plan be done only in its entirety, and that anywhere it is used authorship should be credited to communities struggling with unaffordable water.

1. Any water affordability plan must acknowledge that water is a public trust, the provision of water is a public good and water is not a commodity subject to privatization.


2. Any water affordability plan must be situated within a broader commitment to ensuring access to clean, safe, affordable water for all.


3. Any water affordability plan must be modeled along the lines of a sliding-scale, incomebased rate system, such as that devised in Roger Colton’s 2005 Water Affordability plan prepared for the City of Detroit.


4. Any water affordability plan must be centered within a framework of preserving and maintaining public health.


5. Any water affordability plan must maintain a commitment to principles of conservation and providing assistance to low income residents to ensure they can be proper stewards of their water resources.


6. Any water affordability plan must enshrine quality customer service as a central value along with a commitment to acknowledge the human dignity of all the people it serves.


7. Any water affordability plan must find appropriate ways to deal with past consumer debt, such as the policies being implemented in Philadelphia.


8. Any water affordability plan must eschew water shutoffs as a policy for being inconsistent with the values of public health and the commitment to acknowledge the human dignity of all the people it serves.


9. Water assistance plans are not the same as water affordability plans and must be rejected as such.


10. Tiered water pricing plans, where water is priced by volume, are not the same as water affordability plans and must be rejected as such.

Copyright November 14, 2018, the Water Unity Table.


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