The Detroit Water Project has an open Github with information on what is being done. Tiffani Ashley Bell is a Code For America fellow leading the effort from San Francisco. I'm a few days late in looking into this and the project has growing press coverage. The claim is they have matched up 1,700 donors to residential accounts in arrears. They have tracked $15,000 in bills paid in the short time the site has been live, which I believe was July 19.
I've been on the front line looking at the water shutoffs as a SYMPTOM of a greater root CAUSE that isn't being addressed. If in fact people are paying those bills it simply is treating the symptoms... the greater cause remains to be addressed that puts people into the situation of needing assistance.
And then there's this... is the bill even correct??
Billing Errors by DWSD Revealed
Moratorium Now! has been on the front line assisting those in need. Their Freedom Fridays series was early in the fight to bring awareness. This Friday at 4:00 is Freedom Fridays #11 gathering in front of the Water Board Building at 735 Randolph between Bates and Farmer.
Today Moratorium Now is providing proof of billing problems with Detroit Water & Sewerage Department's (DWSD). The problem lies mostly with houses going through the conversion from the old meter systems to these new smart meters. One bill sent to the house indicated usage of 1,800 cubic feet of water. A visit to the billing office requesting the statement indicates 1,100 cf. There's a significant difference between 13,464 and 8,228 gallons = 5,236 difference or 63.6% increase.
Treating Symptoms is OK
I'm not of the mind to discount or disregard the project and its merits in the moment. What is needed is to ensure that what could become a dependency on the project does not occur. That's why bringing out the CAUSES and fighting for those are so important before questioning caring for the symptoms.
Funding the Fight To Cure the Causes
It will become a problem fighting the causes if all funding goes into handling the symptoms. I'm opposed to heavy handed management that doesn't take care of the needs. There are plenty of non-profits and foundations that spend lots of money on managing situations instead of ground level work in the field. The Peoples Water Board Coalition is not deeply funded by any means. The coalition barely has money to print information sheets or flyers. It has no sponsoring foundation. It truly needs donations to continue working on the CAUSE of the problems in Detroit when it comes to access and affordability of water. Donations are handled through EMEAC with a note to direct funds to Peoples Water Board Coalition. This is a link through Peoples Water Board Coalition to the EMEAC donations page at Network For Good.
- The Emergency Manager's interest is to bring those accounts current to demonstrate its possible and lure in privatization. The people oppose privatization!! Creating a systemic crisis is a common way to move service out of the public into private control.
- Affordable water means looking at the price structure responsibly. It means looking at the errors being made and a system of integrity and fairness.
- Access to work opportunities needs to be IMPROVED - not by increasing police coverage of upset bus riders - fix the PROBLEM not treat the resulting symptom!! Mayor Duggan FAILED his "give me six months to get buses working" campaign pledge. He's playing along with the Emergency Manager but telling the press he's opposed.
Getting to the causes in a crisis is extremely important. Of course treating the symptoms is needed as well, especially when they are life threatening. Being aware of what a symptom is versus a cause requires some thought and investigation. Something two developers from other areas of the country would be hard pressed to do without cooperation from feet-in-the-street locals.