From one of the better concise histories of the summer water / human rights fiasco:

July 21, the water department announced a 15-day suspension of shutoffs. However DWSD turned its attention to examining the accounts of those who have not sought to have their water restored — not because they were worried about a growing public health hazard, but because they are obsessed with the idea that someone might have restored their own water “illegally.”

At the same time, the local press interviewed residents whose water was still off: a single mother who was forgoing having her water turned on in order to pay for gas and get to her new job while her daughter was staying with a relative; an older African American living on Social Security disability, who took a daily walk to fill a bucket of water, courtesy of a neighbor, with his cane in one hand, the heavy bucket in the other.

…and the dynamite conclusion that brings in the broader picture:

The August 11 storm in Metro Detroit showed how close we are to disaster. A nine-hour storm dumped 4.57 inches, overwhelming the drainage systems, flooding basements, streets and highways (I-10, I-75, I-94, I-96 and I-696), overturning cars and leaving thousands without power. …

The answer cannot be found in the austerity measures being imposed by Detroit’s bankruptcy. In fact, it can’t even be found in a generous water affordability plan that is certainly necessary. The issue is much broader, as the storm brought home. It requires an acknowledgement that access to water and sanitation facilities is a human right and a precious asset. An equitable program requires an end to shutoffs and adoption of a process that protects, not penalizes, low-income residents. It means a commitment on the part of the state and federal governments to update infrastructure and insure public health standards for all residents. Only in this way can we guarantee a sustainable life in our cities and on this planet.

See the full article here: http://www.solidarity-us.org/node/4235