The Peoples Water Board holds its meeting the second
Tuesday of the month at 5:30pm at the Cass Corridor
Commons at 4605 Cass Ave. Enter off of Forest.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Press Statement RE: Judge Cox's Decision

For immediate release: November 15, 2011

People’s Water Board Coalition’s Statement Regarding Judge Cox’s Decision to Repeal the Detroit City Charter

DETROIT, MI—The People’s Water Board Coalition of Detroit is outraged at Judge Cox’s recent decision to ignore the Detroit City Charter and collective bargaining rights in his ruling over our Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD).

Our Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has been under a federal consent decree for non-compliance with the Clean Water Act for over 30 years. Judge Cox has determined the remedy for this situation is to abandon Detroiters’ home rule Charter and city workers’ collective bargaining rights.

“This decision does not address the root causes of DWSD’s compliance problems,” said Melissa Damaschke of The Sierra Club. “We need a plan that truly addresses our compliance issues and comes up with long-term solutions for meeting Clean Water Act standards.”

Water is a basic human right and should be held in a public commons so that it can be kept clean, safe and affordable for all consumers.

“Judge Cox has greatly overstepped his bounds,” said Gwen Gains of Michigan Welfare Rights Organization. “By abandoning the City Charter and taking away the public’s right to determine what happens to our public utility he had violated the city’s constitution and taken away the voices of the citizens that have paid for this system.”

Judge Cox’s agreement also appears to set the stage for privatization. By neglecting the City Charter it will now be easier for the regional water board to sell off pieces of our public water system to private companies without seeking the approval of Detroit voters.

“We know that privatization is not the answer,” said Lynna Kaucheck of Food and Water Watch. “Our research shows that after a water system is sold or leased to a private entity, rates typically increase and service declines, as companies attempt to regain their capital investment. Detroit is already plagued with high water rates and multiple shut-offs and can’t afford another increase.”

The citizens of Detroit have built and paid for this system and want to be informed of and involved in the decisions made regarding our public utility. Today, we call on City Council President Charles Pugh, President Pro Tem Gary Brown, and Mayor Bing’s office to explain their roles in this process and to bring transparency, which has been lacking thusfar. We ask the City Council to appeal Judge Cox’s order and to insist upon a plan which protects the power of Detroit voters to approve the sale of public assets and the power of city workers to bargain collectively.


The People’s Water Board Coalition of Detroit is a coalition of labor, social justice, environmental conservation, and public interest organizations. The People’s Water Board Coalition advocates for access, protection and conservation of water. We believe water is a human right and all people should have access to clean and affordable water. Water is a commons that should be held in the public trust free of privatization. The People’s Water Board Coalition promotes awareness of the interconnectedness of all people and resources. Coalition members include: The Sierra Club, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, The Green Party of Michigan, Food & Water Watch, Michigan Committee Against War and Injustice, The Rosa Parks Institute, and AFSCME Local 207.

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