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“A new study by We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective and Henry Ford Health System shows a correlation between water shutoffs and water-related illnesses.
1. Patients admitted to Henry Ford Hospital with water-related illnesses were significantly
more likely to live on a block that has experienced water shutoffs. Patients diagnosed with skin
and soft tissue diseases were 1.48 times more likely to live on a block that has experienced
2. Living on a block that has experienced water shutoffs increases the likelihood that the
patient will be diagnosed with a water-related illness.
3. Patients who are most likely to experience water-related illnesses resulting from water
shutoffs are also the most socially vulnerable, according to the Center for Disease Control’s
‘Social Vulnerability Index.’
What should happen next?
1. The City of Detroit must institute an immediate moratorium on all water shutoffs.
2. The City of Detroit must institute a water affordability plan based on a resident’s ability to pay.
3. The City of Detroit must release water shutoff data necessary to complete a more thorough study of the impact of water shutoffs on public health, with an analysis as to how these conditions further contribute to racial health inequities.
How can I protect my family from these water-related illnesses?
1. Use bottled water for drinking or try to get water from a neighbor, ESPECIALLY for vulnerable populations.
2. Be careful not to reach hands into an open source (bucket/jug) of water. This can contaminate the water.
3. If the toilet cannot be flushed and human waste is sitting in it, periodically pour a bucket of water directly into the bowl to manually flush it; gravity will do the trick and send it to the sewer.
4. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean hands and wounds as much as possible. Consider asking neighbors or friends to come use their shower to bathe yourself and your family.
5. Once your water is reconnected, let it run for a little while (at least 5 minutes) before you drink it. This can help discharge any contaminants that might have settled in the pipes while it was shut off.
My water is shut off or at risk of being shut off. What should I do?
Call We the People of Detroit’s water rights hotline at 1-844-42WATER (1-844-429-2837). Our volunteers can assist Detroiters with locating emergency water and making payment arrangements with DWSD. We can also assist with finding and navigating the various water resources that are currently available.”