Ending Water Shutoffs: A Racial Justice Imperative

Shutting off water services when people can’t pay their bills violates the human right to water—is particularly dangerous in a pandemic, writes Amanda Klasing.

In Detroit, Michigan, water shutoffs are correlated with more COVID-19 cases. Some families—particularly Black Detroiters—have gone years without running water, according a lawsuit seeking to end city water shutoffs rooted in long-running structural racism.

“Centuries of racial segregation in housing, infrastructure neglect in neighborhoods with low incomes, and poor water regulation have left communities with water they don’t trust, can’t afford, and that is harming their health,” says Klasing.

The pandemic underscores “the absurdity of the US refusal to accept its obligations on the human right to water—against which it has repeatedly argued,” she writes.

Human Rights Watch
 

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