The city’s water department this week plans to step up enforcement of overdue business accounts to collect tens of millions in lost revenue, but it won’t shut off residential water until a proven safety net is in place.

Although there are 26,000 residential accounts with outstanding balances, officials said they will target commercial accounts first.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is seeking compliance from 2,044 delinquent commercial accounts to avoid shut-offs. Those customers owe DWSD about $20 million, said Bill Nowling, spokesman for a new regional water authority set to go into effect in July.

The department will also go after some 8,355 accounts that have been deemed illegal hookups — in which the water has been shut off at a meter but is still showing water usage. The water thefts account for about $13.6 million owed to DWSD, he said.

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