First Detroit, Now Baltimore Is Shutting Off Water To The Poor

detroit water
Usually, when you see someone making a mistake, and if you’re relatively intelligent, you try hard not to replicate that mistake. Because when you see that something doesn’t work or causes unnecessary harm or danger, then the normal reflex is to head in the other direction. Try something else. Try something that works.

Which is why I’m having a rather hard time understanding why it is that the City of Baltimore has apparently made the decision to follow in the footsteps of my adopted hometown Detroit and is shutting off the water in poor peoples’ homes for falling behind on their bills while allowing the larger – and significantly wealthier – corporations and businesses to slide on by. Even though they are the ones most responsible for the related deficit that the city currently finds itself in.

From Think Progress:

Food and Water Watch researcher Mary Grant explained that making water unavailable to residents is a major health risk, and that if Baltimore were to deprive 25,000 households of water, diseases would have a high chance of propagating throughout densely-populated neighborhoods.

“There is direct risk associated with lack of access to water,” Grant told ThinkProgress. “When you lose your water service, you lose water to wash your hands to flush the toilet, there is risk of disease spreading.”

City officials like Department of Public Works director Rudy Chow claim that residents using water without paying are to blame for the $40 million in overdue water bills. In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million. One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself.

I’m not completely on the side of those who claim that water is a human right and therefore should be free. This populist philosophy applies if you’re drinking water out of a stream, or trapping rainwater, but once you involve the services of a water treatment plant, built and operated by people who need to get paid, then the free water argument pretty much goes out the window. So forget free.

However. And this is a truly large ‘however’.

Fairness and decency do matter in this world. And allowing poor families to go without water because they don’t have sufficient resources to keep up on their bills while turning a blind eye to those who, no doubt, have somebody’s ear in a vice grip at City Hall due to ocean deep pockets, is not exactly what any sane person would characterize as fair. So after all the protests and the negative press that Detroit got last year for shutting off the water to poor people while also letting far wealthier clients off the hook, how is it that Baltimore thinks they can get away with this? Especially when Detroit was forced to change course and do the right thing because the wrong thing didn’t work? From the March 16, 1015 online edition of The Detroit News:

The city’s water department this week plans to step up enforcement of overdue business accounts to collect tens of millions in lost revenue, but it won’t shut off residential water until a proven safety net is in place.

Although there are 26,000 residential accounts with outstanding balances, officials said they will target commercial accounts first.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is seeking compliance from 2,044 delinquent commercial accounts to avoid shut-offs. Those customers owe DWSD about $20 million, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for a new regional water authority set to go into effect in July.

So just do the right thing, Baltimore. Save yourself a few steps.

14 Replies to “First Detroit, Now Baltimore Is Shutting Off Water To The Poor”

  1. The Republican mindset- Swallow a Camel, choke on a Gnat. And blame the poor people, they make excellent scapegoats.

  2. Hail Eris!

    “March 16, 1015”? Man, that’s old news.

    Snarky
    The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

  3. This is what happens when you all sit on your butts during an election cycle. When only 20% the potential voters in this state bothered to show up and do their civic duty, we now have a GOP/TeaParty supporting gov. How can you possibly be surprised that he is doing the same crap that Republicans are doing all over the country? Its every persons fault, whom sat on their sofa instead of standing in line. Hope your comfort was worth the next 4 years.

  4. Was a time when (almost) every American had a chance at a decent wage and a home, and could pay their bills. When people can’t pay their basics like water and rent, then you know we’re headed for the trap door as a nation.

  5. Anybody here surprise? This is just the beginning. All you have to do is look at WI, MI, IL, NJ, KS to see Baltimore future. They all have one thing in common. A republican governor, and they all have one purpose is to steal from the middleclass on down to the poor and give to the rich.

    Elections have consequences..

  6. I’m in MD, too. I couldn’t believe the RWNJ won. Yes, far too many sat home because of apathy and also fell for the RWNJs pushing the “rain tax” fear. So now when all our famous “blue crabs” die off because dumb people don’t want to clean up the Bay, they’ll be crying.

    I sent Cardin an email and tweet. I don’t like him. He’s an apologist for Netanyahu and wasn’t against him disrespecting President Obama by speaking in front of Congress without first informing the President.

    I also sent Senator Mikulski an email, too.

  7. Sally, you can thank the corporations for that. In the 1950s they hired PR firms to convince Americans that all unions were corrupt, were communist sympathizers, and so forth. They convinced the idiots and they voted against the unions and their own interests.

    Now the unions are powerless, the corporations run the country, the MIC gets us into one endless war after another, most of our industry has been sent overseas, and the idiots are still dancing to the tune of their corporate masters.

    It’s enough to make me glad I’m dying. At leadt I won’t have to see this country become a third world nation.

  8. This is in the city of Baltimore, where the city is shutting off the water to residents. Rather than go after the businesses. Well first anyone who don’t pay their bill should get cut off. That includes a business.
    But I have out point out that the entire city council and mayor are all democrats. Its up to them how to handle this. And they are the ones who opted to shut off water to residents.
    I do agree with the fact they should go after the business rather than the citizen first.

  9. I remember that in the “80”s where I live, the homeless problem had gotten out of hand. If you went to a department store, you would almost always find someone bathing or washing their clothes in the restrooms. How sad, thats where were heading again.
    Very Christ like, to deny people basic necessities.

  10. If there is a God Ya can be sure He is preparing a special place in Hell for R assholes. Not every R is one but there are many.

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