U.S. Water News Online
DETROIT -- Suburbanites were steaming after the Detroit
City Council voted to raise water rates for other communities that
use its water system, but postponed a rate increase for its own
City officials say the increases, which average 5.7 percent for
the suburbs and 5.4 percent for the city, are needed to help pay to
replace century-old water mains that average 50 leaks a week and to
upgrade plants and pumping stations.
The council voted 5-4 to implement the suburban increases but
postponed the increases for Detroit until the city administration
presents a water affordability plan to help low-income residents cut
The increases are effective July 1 and will show up in August
Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams and Water and Sewerage
Department Director Victor Mercado said they were uncertain whether
the council's decision is legal. The move also could threaten the
water and sewer system's $450 million capital improvement program,
compliance with federal Clean Water regulations and a bond sale deal
already under way, they said.
Many suburban customers already are suspicious that Detroit
overcharges them for water, and some communities have demanded more
control over the system.
"This is clearly indicative of why we need a change in how the
system is governed," Oakland County Drain Commissioner John McCulloch
told the Detroit Free Press. "I can't fault the City Council for
addressing the specific needs in their particular city, but obviously
not when it impacts other parts of the region."
Joe Munem, spokesman for Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh, said the
council's action was "obscene."
"The Detroit City Council has proven that they cannot cooperate
regionally with anybody, be it the Detroit Zoo or this water rate
increase," Munem told The Detroit News. He was referring to the
council's initial rejection last month of a vote to transfer zoo
operations to the Detroit Zoological Society, a decision that briefly
put the zoo's future in jeopardy.
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