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Detroit Shutting Off Water to Homes With Unpaid Bills

FILE - People stand outside Detroit City Hall, protesting thousands of residential water-service shutoffs by Detroit's water department, during a rally in Detroit, Thursday, July 24, 2014.

The city of Detroit, Michigan began shutting off water service Monday to thousands of people with overdue bills.

The cash-strapped city has been doing the shutoffs for several years as it balances giving people a chance to catch up on payments with its own budget crisis.

Some 23,000 people owed an average of about $663. Hundreds of them lined up Saturday to sign up for a payment plan to keep their water on.

Detroit's water department services about 4 million people in its region.

Those customers include people in Flint, a city about 100 kilometers north, which had switched to a local provider but changed back after tests revealed elevated levels of lead in the water.

President Barack Obama is due to visit Flint on Wednesday to meet with residents and check on the government's efforts to respond to the lead crisis.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced Monday that 15,000 children and pregnant women will be eligible for expanded medical benefits after they were exposed to the lead-contaminated water. The state is also trying to replace hundreds of lead water pipes that run into Flint homes.