Detroit shuts off water to thousands of customers

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department's campaign to shut off service to thousands of customers in the city who are delinquent on bills is drawing criticism.

The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press report a coalition of welfare rights groups is appealing to the United Nations to assist Detroit residents. A report was submitted to the U.N., with groups that want service restored calling the shutoffs a violation of human rights.

On Tuesday, Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Michigan issued a statement calling the shutoffs "inhumane."

Water department officials are defending their actions. The effort announced in March in the bankrupt city seeks to target Detroit residents and companies more than 60 days late on bills. The department says 4,500 shutoffs took place after about 46,000 notices were sent.