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Council Hears Heated Debate On Detroit Water System

DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit residents had a chance Wednesday to gripe to City Council about the city’s troubled water system, some promising to aggressively fight what some say is an attempt to privatize the department.

Earlier this month a federal judge refused to lift oversight of the system citing serious violations of the Clean Water Act.

WWJ’s Marie Osborne reported things got a bit heated during Wednesday’s public forum.

“Citizens are really, really getting sick and tired of having to come down here and voice or opinion and fight for things that already belong to us,” said Detroit resident Valerie Burrus.

Burrus and another three dozen residents appeared hoping to go on record, making it clear that they believe no one should control the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department other than Detroiters.

“I don’t think that customers have the right to come in and say, well since we don’t like the way you are running it, we’re going to taker it over,” said Burrus, referring to calls from the suburbs for regional control of the system.

“I’m a customer of DTE … I can’t go get ownership of DTE,” she said.

Detroit resident Carol Conway agreed saying suburban outsiders should stay out.

“The water belongs to Detroit. We’ve been stripped of so many things that belong to the city, I’ll be darned if we’re gonna let the water go,” she said.  “I say if it goes to they’re going to take our water from us, we’re going to take it to the streets, because enough is just enough.”

Three members of the council were present to hear the comments on Wednesday at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.

Challenges to Detroit’s control of its water and sewerage department go back  decades but have gained momentum following federal
indictments against former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his  colleagues
.  The department has been under federal oversight for 34 years.


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