Detroit: High and Dry—a Mini Documentary

Aug 07, 2014 at 7:58 AM ET

Access to clean water should be a basic human right, but many homeowners in Detroit face one of the hardest decisions of their lives: use what little water they have for flushing the toilet—or for drinking.

Vocativ just returned from the city, where some thousands of homeowners are coping with having their water shut off every week. The numbers get worse—many of those families are fighting monthly bills—demanding as much as $5,000—even as their water use has declined. This mini-documentary captures Detroit’s vicious cycle as its bankruptcy and blight are forcing even more people to flee the city. Even the United Nations has gotten involved, calling the water shutoffs a human rights violation.

Vocativ speaks to the Water and Sewerage Department, a former water plant operator, a human rights advocate, and the families most affected by this crisis in the biggest city to ever file for bankruptcy.