WPD Featured in “An Equitable Water Future: A National Briefing Paper”

A report has been released by the US Water Alliance that highlights the work of the WPD Community Research Collective.

View/Download the full report — An Equitable Water Future: A National Briefing Paper
Visit report page on the US Water Alliance website

“Data can also empower communities to understand and analyze affordability challenges, as well as present their findings to decision-makers. We the People of Detroit, a community organization which engages in participatory research, took a data-driven approach to the water affordability crisis faced by low-income Detroit communities in 2014. We the People saw the impact of water shutoffs on quality of life, but they also saw the need to quantify the scope and impact of the problem. They partnered with the University of Michigan and the Detroit Public Health Department to lead community-based research on the public health impacts of unaffordable water. We the People conducted surveys, gathered government data, and created maps, all showing the health effects of the shutoffs. This project leveraged institutional resources to involve the community in data collection and analysis around affordability and water quality, promoting a clearer understanding of the challenges and illuminating potential solutions.”

Quests for Justice and Mechanisms of Suppression in Flint, Michigan

Rebecca L. Rutt and Jevgeniy Bluwstein have published a research paper entitled “Quests for Justice and Mechanisms of Suppression in Flint, Michigan”. The abstract is below. READ FULL PAPER

“There is widespread acknowledgment of the crisis nature and injustices around water quality and access in Flint since mid-2014. This crisis led to different forms of grassroots activism demanding political accountability, transparency, and redress. However, residents’ experiences and their needs and demands in response to the crisis have been largely ignored. This article explores the mechanisms of suppression at work in obscuring these needs and demands. Specifically, it sheds light on the role of the public sector, the media, and the academic institutions in reproducing these mechanisms of suppression. The article situates the struggles over political accountability within the neoliberalization of public administration and government through emergency management. Capital accumulation can continue and intensifies, whereas emergency management further contributes to suppressing public dissent in the times of crisis via the erosion of political accountability. By illuminating institutionalized mechanisms of suppression of residents’ needs and demands, we argue that the Flint water crisis should also be seen as a crisis of government, journalism, and academia.”

Water Shutoffs Impact Public Health: a collaborative study with Henry Ford Health System

View/download fact sheet
View/download full research paper

“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
water shutoffs.

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.’

NEXT STEPS
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.”