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PNS Daily Newscast - November 15, 2018 


Lawyer Michael Avenatti arrested on a domestic violence charge. Also on the Thursday rundown: more testimony on the anti-protest bill; plus we will take you to the Dakotas to celebrate American Education Week.

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Report: Water Shutoffs Affect 15 Million Nationwide

In some states, ratepayer groups are pressing legislatures to pass water affordability plans that link rates to household income. (Earl 53/Morguefile)
In some states, ratepayer groups are pressing legislatures to pass water affordability plans that link rates to household income. (Earl 53/Morguefile)
October 26, 2018

ST. LOUIS – Water shutoffs for nonpayment are widespread across the country, affecting some 15 million Americans in 2016, according to a new report from Food and Water Watch.

The group surveyed water companies and found that shutoff rates ranged from 23 percent of customers in Oklahoma City – to none in parts of Massachusetts and Vermont, where utilities don't use shutoffs as a collections method.

Jennifer Fassbender, board member with Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation and a member of the People's Water Board in Detroit, says in that city more than 100,000 households have experienced water shutoffs in the past five years – which she says inflicts great suffering.

"It often is the slippery slope that forces people to lose their homes, lose their children in many cases,” says Fassbender. “It's just an extremely inhumane way for our institutions to be deciding who gets water and who doesn't."

The report says Kansas City has the ninth-highest rate of shutoffs in the U.S. at 11 percent, or 38,000 people. The city has wrestled with how to pay for major upgrades to its sewer system. Other places with high shutoff rates include Tulsa, Oklahoma; Springdale, Arkansas; Jacksonville, Florida; and New Orleans.

Fassbender says the water rates have shot up in many places in recent years – especially in places where the water utility is a private company – and she says it isn't because people are using more than their fair share.

"It's not for water usage whatsoever,” says Fassbender. “It's for the main breaks, it's for infrastructure, it's for sewers. It's all of these things that people don't have any control over, but this is what they're having to pay for."

In Missouri, water utilities do have to give customers who are behind on their bill 10 days' written notice by mail, or four days if the notice is delivered in person, before shutting off the water. They also have to make "reasonable efforts" to contact the customer in the day before a shutoff is scheduled.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MO