Nov 12, 2018
An estimated 15 million Americans had the water to their homes shut off in 2016, according to the watchdog organization Food and Water Watch. Seventy-three of the largest water providers across the country had shut off 5 percent of their residential customers, on average. Food and Water Watch used this information to come up with their estimate for the country as a whole.
It’s not hard to see why so many people can’t afford to pay their water bills. In cities like Detroit and New Orleans, water bills typically run $1,000 a year, which for the poorest fifth of households amounts to 9 percent of their income, according to Food and Water Watch.
Getting reconnected after a shutoff only adds to the problem, since many utilities charge an additional fee to do so. It’s no wonder that 900 Detroit homes went without water for at least three months after their shutoffs, according to another survey by the Center for Michigan.
These shutoffs are a direct result of a decades long attack on the working class. The federal government has cut funding to water and sewer systems by 74 percent since 1977, at the same time that household income has dropped, when both are adjusted for inflation.
A researcher at Michigan State University recently predicted that 36 percent of American households will not be able to pay their water bills by 2022, if things are allowed to continue as they are.
That’s an accurate prediction in a society in which everything is for sale, including water, which is one of the most basic of human needs. To have what we need to survive – everything that everyone needs – will take a fight.