No water in Motown


Children in Detroit attending a rally against water shut-offs in the city on June 20, 2014. Photograph: Justin Wedes

Of all the stories we are hearing in the news lately, I’m not sure why I can’t get the water shut off’s in Detroit out of my head. People are dying in Libya and Gaza, war threatens the Ukraine, outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, lets face it, we aren’t doing so well right now. There is a lot to think about. But of all this horrible news that keeps pounding us everyday, like waves of human failure, the story of the people who are getting their water turned off is the one that I find myself turning over and over in my head. Actually I just can’t wrap my mind around it.

Perhaps it is because of the proximity of Detroit. I mean I can’t walk there, but I can drive there. I don’t need to take a plane or a boat, I can just jump in my car and be in Detroit later today if I needed to. Detroit is not in a third world country, in fact it’s in one of (if not the) richest countries in the world. A country where some people are worth billions of dollars. A country where everyone wants to make a difference, but maybe just not in Detroit.

Perhaps it is because I have always had water. Wherever I have lived there has been water. I will be the first to admit I have not always lived in the lap of luxury, but there has always been a tap I could turn on and water came out. Simple as that. In fact sometimes I don’t drink water cause it’s ‘just water’, I would rather drink something that is more tasty. From now on I think water will do just fine.

Perhaps it is because the bills that these people owe are really not all that big, they are averaging between $150 to $300. I mean really stop and think about it for a minute, $150 is a good meal at a restaurant, a new sports coat, a full tank of gas. But it is also the price to be able to give your child something they need to live, a glass of water.

I’m not pretending to understand all the problems that have brought the city of Detroit to the state that it’s in. Or that I might have the magic solution to make everything better. But I do know what is right and what is wrong, and to deprive children and old people of water in a city in North America (yes I have lumped Canada in there), where every second house has a swimming pool full of water and we water our grass so it stays green, is wrong.


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