Peoples Water Board addresses water concerns at 2011 Great Lakes Healing Our Waters Conference

December 1, 2011

Melissa Damaschke of the Sierra Club and Lila Cabil
of the Rosa Parks Institute

DETROIT -- The Detroit Peoples Water Board presented their concerns around water access, affordability and quality to a national audience on behalf of Southeast Michigan at the Seventh Annual Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Restoration Conference which was held October 12-14 at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel.

A panel of five speakers representing the nine-organization coalition held the “Organizing for Clean and Affordable Water” Workshop in the Woodward Ballroom on October 13. The speakers were Melissa Damaschke 

Priscilla Dziubek
(Detroit Sierra Club - Great Lakes), Lila Cabbil (Raymond & Rosa Parks Institute), Priscilla Dziubek (East Michigan Environmental Action Council), Gwen Gaines (Michigan Welfare Rights Organization), Erma Leaphart (Sierra Club) and Lynna Kaucheck (Food & Water Watch).

“We’ve had some discussions about how we can come together and make a difference,” Cabbil said during her opening presentation. “The importance of these organizations is that they represent different perspectives in the community. By having a very diverse coalition, we’ve had some really excellent ideas. Our intention is to very much become a grassroots organization with some non-traditional leadership.”

The People’s Water Board is a coalition of labor, social justice, and environmental organizations
based in Detroit. They work together to confront the devastating lack of access to water faced by tens of thousands of low-income people who have had their water shut off; water pollution due to aging wastewater infrastructure; and the effort of corporate interests to gain control of Detroit’s water system. You can listen to the  panel discussion from the Healing Our Waters Conference at

“I thought the conference went really well,” Dziubek said. “There were actually three events about water all held simultaneously here in Detroit during Great Lakes Week - Healing Our Waters Conference, International Joint Commission Biennial Meeting, and U.S. Areas of Concern Annual Meeting. Pretty much every group working on water issues in the Great Lakes Basin was represented."
“During our workshop, response to our presentation was very positive and a lot of good questions came from the audience. We also heard the audience tell their own local stories about water issues in their own communities. One main theme that was generally agreed on was about holding water as a public commons so that it’s available for everyone – especially for future generations.”

The Peoples Water Board meets the second Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the Michigan Center for High Technology 2727 Second Avenue.