Detroit Allows Outsiders to Pay Past Due Water Bills

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A Detroit resident with a past due water bill, facing a shut off of H2O, now has a chance for help. Someone other than himself can pay his water bill. As of Sunday morning, 4,000 donors where matched with people who needed aid.

The plan appears to have come from a grassroots movement, according to Detroit Water Project, the group that manages the aid project. The need for a solution is acute. Some 300,000 people in Detroit are delinquent and face water cutoffs.

The project works in three stages, starting with donors. This is an initiative designed to help citizens of Detroit with some relief with their past due water bills.

All information submitted will be verified online with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department by using your account number to view the past due bill amount and current usage. Your name is not shown in the current billing view system. Donors are able to help you by paying on your behalf directly to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. We will make your account number available to them in order to send payments.:
We match you to a Detroit resident you can help directly by submitting a payment to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department on their behalf.

You will receive the following information for a Detroit resident you can help with their water bill:

Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) account number
Past due amount
Directions on how to use the DWSD website to pay a water bill

The donor then gives an email address and offers the amount of the payment.

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Additionally for those who need aid:

This is an initiative designed to help citizens of Detroit with some relief with their past due water bills.

All information submitted will be verified online with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department by using your account number to view the past due bill amount and current usage. Your name is not shown in the current billing view system. Donors are able to help you by paying on your behalf directly to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. We will make your account number available to them in order to send payments.

And, finally, there is likely to be some degree on anonymity:

We only share information donors need to get matched to people to help with bills. Here’s what we share only with the donor:

Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) account number
DWSD account past due amount
We do not share names, but the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department may reveal them.

In other words, the organization cannot guarantee what the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department will do.

While the project is noble, only 4,000 people have offered aid against a problem that faces 300,000 people. The action will get a lot of publicity, but it has been ineffective.

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