Safe water is as much a public health issue as it is an environmental one. Even if water is affordable and accessible, it is of no benefit to our communities if it isn’t safe to drink and to use in our homes.
Ensuring the availability of safe water has a lot to do with how our elected officials manage public water supplies. This involves maintaining essential infrastructure, including the removal of lead pipes, and implementing the appropriate water treatment processes to ensure sure access to safe, high quality water.
Public health officials have called water shutoffs a public health emergency. There is ongoing research investigating the correlation between water shutoffs and increased rates of waterborne illnesses. When a residential water account is shut off, water remains in the pipes. Stagnant water breeds bacteria that can be harmful when ingested. After five years of water shutoffs, neighborhoods in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, may be at increased risk of exposure to waterborne illnesses that are rarely seen in developed countries.
The People’s Water Board Coalition advocates for the human rights to water and sanitation and equitable access and affordability for impacted communities.