Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Detroit Water Shutoffs

ACLU attorney calls the news “devastating” for residents.

Eli Newman / WDET

A federal appeals court has rejected a request by Detroit residents to allow their legal challenge to water shutoffs in the city to go forward. 

The group of 10 city residents says water rates in the city are not affordable, and low-income residents are being denied their right to drinking water.

The water department ramped up its collection efforts following Detroit’s 2014 bankruptcy.

Mark Fancher is an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He says the residents are looking for the chance to tell a court their side.

“What we’ve been fighting for is just an opportunity for the people we represent to go and to have an opportunity to go in and to make their case,” said Fancher.

“It’s devastating, certainly,” he continued. “It eliminates one opportunity that they could have had to go and to get relief from the courts for the crisis that they continue to experience.” 

The appeals court says bankruptcy law blocks their claim. The city says it has to charge water customers for the costs of providing the service.