The City of Baltimore is in the process of cutting off water to some 25,000 residents with unpaid water bills of $250 or more.
They will be unable to bathe their children, wash their hands or flush their toilers. Evidently the city government has forgotten the reason to have a public water supply in the first place, which is to prevent the spread of disease.
In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million.
One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself.
The City of Detroit started similar water shutoffs, but backed down after an international outcry.
People are obligated to pay their bills if they are able. But there should be better ways to collect than depriving people of a necessity of life or, for that matter, creating a public health hazard.
Baltimore collects $1 million in unpaid water bills by Yvonne Wenger for the Baltimore Sun.
Don’t shut off our drinking water, a Baltimore Sun editorial.
This City Could Become the Next Detroit by Carl Gibson for ThinkProgress. (Hat tip to Avedon’s Sideshow)
The Inequality of Water by Sam Ross-Brown for The American Prospect.