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As Detroit water shutoff moratorium ends, some residents struggle to pay bills of $5,000-plus

Customers wait outside the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Westside Customer Service Center on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 (Photo: Robin Buckson/AP Photo/Detroit News)

Customers wait outside the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's Westside Customer Service Center on Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 (Photo: Robin Buckson/AP Photo/Detroit News)

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More Detroit residents may lose their water today, as the moratorium on shutoffs for homes with outstanding water bills ends. So far, nearly 20,000 residents have had their water shut off, and some haven't been able to get the water turned back on. On Saturday, the city hosted a water affordability fair -- an event attended by as many as 3,000 people, with their overdue bills in hand.

Danny McGlashing was at the fair. He's with an organization called The Detroit Water Brigade, which distributes water to homes that are going without.

"It was very chaotic," McGlashing tells As It Happens guest host Peter Armstrong. "The line was 400 yards long through the convention centre, and the city just did not expect the turnout. At 5 o'clock they had to literally turn away over 1,000 people and extend the moratorium."

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department are expected to send crews out today to turn off service to customers who owe money and haven't made payment arrangements. (Photo: Robin Buckson/AP/Detroit News)

"The fair's aim was to bring people in to settle up on their bills," he continues, "to get them onto what's called the 10/30/50 payment plan, which says that if you pay 10 per cent of your bill owed, you can take a 24-month payment plan."

McGlashing says that many have come to his organization with bills in excess of $5,000.

"That's a big bill right now that people cannot afford to pay," he says.

"The city right now is in the midst of a logistical nightmare, where they hadn't taken into consideration the vast amount of people who can't pay their bill. They assume these people can pay, so let's shut them off and force them to pay. That's just not the case."

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Up to 300,000 in Detroit at risk of having their water cut off this summer (June 27, 2014)

A flyer from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) explaining their 10/30/50 payment plan.

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