[Marxism] The Struggle For Water In Detroit

Waistline2 at aol.com Waistline2 at aol.com
Tue Apr 14 13:04:55 MDT 2009

The Struggle For Water In Detroit
By Jesu Estrada

Jesu: Marion, please give our readers background on  the Detroit water 

Marian Kramer: People came into the office  during the late nineties with 
problems with utilities like lights and gas. We  found out some of them had 
their water shut off. If they are the head of the  household, not having 
water lays the foundation for having children taken away.  So a family’s water 
was off, but parents were keeping it a secret. We found out  that between 
2001-2, some 40,700 people were without water.

We held  direct action campaigns against the Detroit Water and Sewage 
Department (DWSD)  and finally developed a water affordability plan so no one 
would have to pay  more than $40 and so there would be no water shut offs. We 
struggled and finally  got the Detroit City Council to pass the Water 
Affordability Plan and to make it  a program of the DWSD. We had to expose and call 
out certain sectors of the  Detroit City Council who were not supporting 
the program. We exposed that the  water department was being privatized. 

In 2006 we found out that the  number of homes without water had gone up to 
45,000. Victor Mercado, the head of  the DWSD, claimed in 2006 that the 
Water Affordability Plan could be implemented  by July of 2006. They never 
implemented the program.

They finally implemented a program in September of 2007 but they  changed 
the name to the Detroit Residents Water Assistance Program — which is  our 
program — but they had gutted it. The program would only service 1,100  
people. Our plan would help 45,000 or more. Our program laid the foundation for  
no more shut offs.

Today, we have a huge utility committee to insure that  the original water 
affordability plan goes through. This time we are going to  the legislative 
branch. Now we are getting petitions and going through the  process to get 
the program on the ballot. We are going to blanket Detroit so  they 
understand the plan and come out to vote.

In Detroit we have four  new people on the City Council. One campaigned on 
the water issue, but ended up  switching to the administrative side as soon 
as he was elected. There is outrage  about who these city council members 
represent. They are tied to the  corporations. Even the corporations are not 
paying their water bills. The  working class suffers daily from not having 
water. Water is a human right; it  should not be shut off. People should pay 
according to their income and the  infrastructure should be upgraded to 
create more jobs.

Jesu:  What  can our readers do to help your cause?

Marian: The U.S. Social Forum has  chosen Detroit for its 2010 event. It 
would be good if people around the country  get on with us so that we can 
discuss water rights on a national level. Also,  send letters to our Gov. J. 
Granholm for a moratorium on water shutoffs in the  state of Michigan. Pressure 
should also be put on President Obama. Call Michigan  Welfare Rights at 
(313) 964-0618 or (313) 964-2500 or visit the website at  http://www.mwro.org/.

Marian Kramer is co-chair of the National Welfare  Rights Union
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