The Hardest Work I’ve Ever Done’—What It’s Like Living Without Water in Detroit

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Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

WDET’s Jake Neher speaks with Valerie Blakely, a mother of five who lives on the North End in Detroit.

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A sign above the water station at Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry in Northwest Detroit.Jake Neher/WDET
Jake Neher/WDET

A sign above the water station at Brightmoor Connection Food Pantry in Northwest Detroit.

Detroit’s water department has shut off water to tens of thousands of homes in recent years. Officials say the number of shutoffs has dropped significantly since a peak in 2014.

But the problem persists in a city with a poverty rate over 30 percent.

Click here to find out more about the shutoffs and what activists say could help fix the problem.

WDET’s Jake Neher speaks with Valerie Blakely, a mother of five who lives on the North End in Detroit.

Blakely tells Neher what it’s like living without water.  

It means hauling water every day,” says Blakely. “It means hauling water so that your kids can brush their teeth and make sure that they’re okay and bathe and are hydrated and all of the important things that you do with water — have clean clothes.”

That means hauling water. It’s the hardest work I’ve ever done.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


Jake Neher, Producer, Detroit Today

Jake Neher is a producer and reporter for Detroit Today. He has formerly reported on the Michigan legislature.

Jake.Neher@wdet.org Follow @GJNeher

Policy Meets the People: MI Voice, MI Vote

This post is a part of Policy Meets the People: MI Voice, MI Vote.

The Policy Meets The People – MI Voice, MI Vote series gives metro Detroiters an opportunity to find out how key legislation, laws and policies created in Lansing affect their daily lives.

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