New Michigan law bans water shutoffs through March

New Michigan law bans water shutoffs through March

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Tuesday to halt water shutoffs during the pandemic.

Spigot with water dripping. Activists are testing drinking water in Detroit neighborhoods for lead.

LANSING, Mich (AP) — Water shutoffs will be banned through March under legislation signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Whitmer had issued an executive order earlier this year that protected people from having their water turned off for non-payment. But the protection was thrown out when the Michigan Supreme Court said the governor had used an unconstitutional law as the foundation for dozens of her coronavirus orders.

“Every Michigander deserves access to clean water, especially during a global pandemic,” Whitmer said in a written statement. “My administration will continue working to ensure clean water for all Michiganders, and I look forward to partnering with everyone who wants to get this done.”

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, pushed for the legislation to allow a “human right” of water despite economic hardships that have hit Michigan during the pandemic. Detroit announced in early December that it would halt water shutoffs through 2022.

“So many Michigan families are struggling, and with COVID-19 still raging, we need to ensure that we are protecting Michigan families’ health and economic security,” Chang said.

Read more:
Detroit to turn the water back on during coronavirus threat
3 ‘women water warriors’ testing lead in Detroit drinking water

Detroit water shutoffs and a crisis of public health

Anna Liz Nichols is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.