Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to reconnect water services to homes that were shut off, and create a $2 million fund to help local authorities comply, is a vital step to beating the coronavirus pandemic.
After all, it’s simply common sense that in order to wash our hands for 20 seconds to prevent spreading the virus, we need to have clean running water in our homes. Since 2014, however, more than 141,000 Detroit homes have been disconnected from water service due to nonpayment of water bills, in a city that has emerged as one of the COVID-19 epicenters in the United States.
Nevertheless, as welcome as the governor’s executive order is, it will not end the coronavirus crisis nor protect us from future pandemics, without three additional actions in the short, medium and long term. These recommendations are derived from my two-year Detroit Water Stories project, that has been researching the interconnected risks to water access and security for the city.