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Report shows many Michiganders at risk of losing their water

water going into cup from faucet
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders could have their water shut off during the pandemic, according to a recent report.

Water advocates say state data show urban and rural residents alike were behind on their water bills this summer.

Utilities reported how many of their customers were in arrears from March through the end of August.

More than 800,000 Michiganders were behind on their water bills this summer, according to the report.

Of the thousands behind on their water bills, the vast majority weren’t eligible for assistance.

Data shows those at risk of losing their water are not confined to cities like Detroit and Flint.

In the Upper Peninsula, more than an estimated 11,000 people were behind on their bills, says Natural Resources Defense Council’s Cyndi Roper.

“I know that a lot of people were struggling before the pandemic. And I believe that that’s just been made worse,” she says. “We also don’t know from the data if the amount of the assistance that was provided to those who received it is even enough to even cover what they owed.”

Roper says the number of people who could lose their service is still unknown.

Roper says state lawmakers are considering legislation that would reinstate a moratorium on pandemic water shutoffs, which ended in October.