Duggan bringing big changes to Detroit water department, startin - KMSP-TV

Duggan bringing big changes to Detroit water department, starting with shutoffs

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CITY OF DETROIT -  Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan is promising big changes at the water department, starting with the controversial shutoffs.
"Certainly it has hurt the reputation of the city," Duggan said. "I have been anxious to do something about it for awhile and I am just glad I have  a chance to do it,"

Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr handed over the water department to the mayor and City Council Tuesday

Duggan says better publicizing assistance programs is the biggest priority.

"I still don't think the people in need have a clear idea where to go for help," Duggan said. "We're going to make communication and the outreach far more effective."

The hand off comes as the water department dropped a bombshell during a council meeting. "Yesterday I believe we cut off two," said Daryl Latimer. "I believe they've been restored because they came in, they paid their account."

"If you say you're not cutting off, in residential areas this is a part of the outrage," said councilwoman Sauntell Jenkins.

The water department continues to shut off people's water due to non-payment during its self imposed two week moratorium.

Detroit residents like Yvonne Purifoy are floored.

"He lied, he blatantly lied," she said. "We are citizens of Detroit and we should have a fair shake at being able to pay our bills. We call and there's answer or they put you on hold forever."

Duggan said that he spoke to Detroit Water and Sewerage Director Sue McCormick last night.

"I do expect all shutoffs of residential to have been stopped, the shutoffs of the commercials need to keep going," he said.

Duggan said he plans on improving customer service at the water department and possibly extending the water shutoff moratorium but he emphasized the fact that unpaid water bills are leaving other customers drowning.

"Something we haven't talked enough about is under the water department law, each city is its own fund," Duggan said. "When some Detroiters don't pay, those payments have to be made by other Detroiters."

Duggan kept mum on the possibility of creating a regional water authority and would not say if the reserve to help poor water customers pay their bills, is fully funded. Right now it's at about a million dollars

Duggan will unveil his changes to the water department in a few weeks.

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