Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced today the moratorium on the city's residential water shutoffs would be extended until Aug. 25, while an updated plan is crafted and rolled out.
Duggan's team spent this last weekend working with Detroit Water & Sewerage Department officials to revamp how the city collects past-due water bills, the mayor's office said in a news release today. The new plan is expected to be released Thursday. Although the moratorium was extended on residential customers for the next three weeks, DWSD Director Sue McCormick said in a statement that "shutoffs will continue on commercial customers with significant arrearage."
The mayor said in a statement that convenience for residents to make payment arrangements and communication by DWSD of available financial assistance is key in this situation.
“Our customers now have one last opportunity until August 25th to make the appropriate arrangements," Duggan, who took control of DWSD last week, said.
The city launched an aggressive campaign against water shutoffs earlier this year to address past-due fees in excess of $100 million. The initiative drew international attention due to the department's efforts to tackle residential units first, but not corporate accounts with excessive fees. The department admittedly was understaffed to address the influx of calls from residents, some of whom reportedly waited two to three days to get a responsive employee on the phone. Over a four month period, roughly 17,000 residential accounts had been cut, of which about half made arrangements to have service restored.
Duggan's office said the city's Water Affordability Fair last weekend offer "an example of the kind of strategy that is needed."
"More than 400 Detroiters came out to DWSD's east side office when we opened it on Saturday," Duggan said in a statement. "Our customers paid their bills, entered into payment plans, and learned about resources to help them conserve water and lower their costs."
McCormick said DWSD's customer service center hours would be immediately extended; the three centers — located downtown at 735 Randolph Street; on the eastside at 13303 E. McNichols; and the westside at 15600 Grand River Avenue — will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. The city said in the release that the DWSD call center, which can be reached at 313-267-8000, is open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.