Water Shutoffs A Public Health Crisis?

A study shows high correlation between water related illnesses and water shut offs in Detroit.

Quinn Klinefelter/WDET

A panel of health professionals and civil rights activists says the water shutoffs in Detroit are creating a public health crisis.

The panel cited a Henry Ford Health System Study that revealed a ‘significant correlation’ between those without water and water-borne illnesses.

The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights Director is Peter Hammer. He moderated the panel. Hammer says the water shut-offs are especially affecting the poorest people in Detroit.

“Detroit has an over 40% poverty rate. Every month, tens of thousands of Detroiters make very hard decisions about how to budget out very limited resources,” Hammer says. “Are they going to devote those resources to food? Are they going to use those resources to pay the rent?”

Hammer says no one voluntarily decides to live without water if they are able to afford to pay for it.

He says without water residents are not able to take care of basic needs and maintain good health. 


  • Bre'Anna Tinsley
    Bre'Anna Tinsley is a reporter for Detroit Public Radio, 101.9 WDET. She covers city government and housing, as well as co-hosting the "Detroit Evening Report" podcast.