Bankruptcy judge asks questions about water shut-offs

Bankruptcy judge asks questions about water shut-offs

The issue of Detroit’s water shut offs became part of the bankruptcy court proceedings today. In the morning session, Judge Steven Rhodes heard from individuals who are objecting to the city’s plan of adjustment. Some complaints were about the water shut offs, which have made international news. Before the lunch break, Judge Rhodes requested that someone from the city water department come to the federal courthouse.

“I hesitate to bring this up because I’m reasonably sure that’s probably not within my jurisdiction but I’m going to anyway. It’s the issue of water,” Rhodes said this morning. “I’m going to ask you if it’s at all possible to have someone at this afternoon’s session who can advise the court and the public about the specifics of the program.”

At the start of the afternoon hearing, Detroit Water and Sewerage Department Deputy Director Darryl Latimer appeared and answered the judge’s questions about why customers are being cut off.

Judge Rhodes asked Latimer what help here is for people who can’t afford their bills. Latimer described payment programs through the department and said several nonprofits offer support for residents. Judge Rhodes also questioned Latimer about why residents haven’t paid their bills. Latimer blamed, in part, the department’s historical lack of enforcement as well as the inability to pay by some customers.

The judge asked Latimer to work on providing information to residents about payment programs and to appear Monday at a status conference in the bankruptcy case.