The city of Detroit is blaming a clerical error for water shutoffs at houses where accounts were in good standing.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) said today that water was “erroneously” turned off at 11 houses or apartments on Wednesday, even though the bills had been paid on time.
Somehow, those 11 accounts were included on a list of 316 properties where water was either previously shut off for nonpayment or was supposed to have been shut off and never was. A private contractor, Homrich Wrecking, was tasked with ensuring water service was stopped at those locations.
Because of the error, Homrich turned off water at 11 houses or apartments that had no payment issues.
“Clearly, this should not have happened and DWSD is now in the process of reviewing this list to ensure such an error does not happen in the future,” DWSD spokesman Greg Eno said.
Motor City Muckraker revealed the blunder this morning after finding three residents whose water was erroneously shut off Wednesday. After calling an emergency line, their water was restored overnight.
Those residents said operators on the emergency line indicated that as many as dozens of people with good accounts lost their water, a number that DWSD disputes.
“The first employee I talked to said that ‘it had been happening all day,’ said Courtney Hermon-Taylor, whose water was shut off Wednesday despite having an up-to-date account.
Mayor Mike Duggan said as late as Monday that the city was not turning off water at houses with delinquent bills until his administration can conduct a thorough review of the payment system for struggling residents.
Eno said Wednesday’s shutoffs were only for homes where water service already should have been suspended.
“DWSD is not conducting shutoffs of delinquent resident accounts; it is focusing on the more than 2,000 delinquent commercial and 6,000 identified theft accounts,” Eno said.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.