The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is suspending water shut-offs for 15 days starting Monday.

The department is facing criticism worldwide for mass shutoffs that have turned off water to 17,000 customers since March, but department spokesman Bill Johnson said the move is not a concession in the high-profile political fight.

“This is a pause. This is not a moratorium,” Johnson said. “We are pausing to give an opportunity to customers who have trouble paying their bills to come in and make arrangements with us. We want to make sure we haven’t missed any truly needy people.”

The water shut-off campaign has followed years of lax enforcement. Critics from the singer Cher to the United Nations have condemned it, calling access to water a basic human right.

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