DETROIT, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – Water is a necessary utility for everyday life but in Detroit, many households are at risk of shutoffs and one city leader is working to keep the tap on.

Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield is drafting a resolution asking for the Governor’s help to protect low-income families from suspended water service.

We believe it’s important that the governor declares that this is a public health crisis and that hopefully funding can be committed as well to this issue,” said Sheffield.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department issued 23,000 shut-offs last year.

Over 12,000 accounts remain delinquent.

“I still hear stories all the time of people who can’t afford to pay their water bills and water shut-offs are still happening in our city,” said Sheffield.

DWSD Director Gary Brown told CW50’s Cryss Walker, when one customer fails to pay the costs are absorbed by another.

And without service interruption, over time water rates could more than triple.

“Without water service interruptions for non-payment as a collection tool, in time the average monthly bill could go from $75 per household, on average, to more than $300,” said Brown.

There has been progress made within DWSD. There are plans and assistance programs in place to help individuals avoid water shut-offs but what I’ve seen over the last couple of years, is that it’s just not enough,” said Sheffield.

Right now Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s office is withholding comment on the resolution until it arrives on the Governor’s desk.

“At this point, we don’t want to speculate on a resolution that we haven’t received yet. If and/or when we do, we will review,” said Whitmer’s Press Secretary Tiffany Brown.

To avoid shut-offs, customers can contact the Water Residential Assistance Program.

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