DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department plans to target businesses with overdue water bills before cracking down on residential customers.

The utility will begin ramping up efforts this week to collect tens of millions of dollars in lost revenue.

The department said it is seeking compliance from nearly 2,050 delinquent commercial accounts to avoid shutting off water for 26,000 residential accounts with outstanding balances.

Bill Nowling, spokesman for a new regional water authority set to go into effect in July, told the Detroit News that delinquent commercial customers owe the water department about $20 million.

The utility is also going to address about 8,355 accounts that have been deemed illegal hookups. Those account for about $13.6 million owed to department, said Nowling.

The department will eventually resume shutting off water to delinquent residential accounts, Nowling said, but the city wants to ensure residents are aware of payment assistant programs before widespread shut-offs resume.

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