Detroit Today

Detroit and Surrounding Suburbs Reach Historic Water Agreement

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Laura Weber-Davis dives into the new water deal between Detroit and its surrounding counties. It’s called the Great Lakes Water Authority, and we’re taking a look at how it’s impacting city and suburban customers. Laura speaks with Detroit Free Press reporter Matt Helms, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash and in opposition, Lynna Kracheck with the Food and Water Watch.

Plus, we'll also hear Laura's conversation with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel. Hackel signed off on the water deal, but the county still won't withdraw their objection to the Plan of Adjustment.

The agreement reached between Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland County officials and Governor Snyder to create the Great Lakes Water Authority is historic, and will help to create a better and more financially stable utility for the region.

The authority will rebuild the existing system and will help customers unable to pay their bills. Helms explains that Detroit will lease the current system to Detroit's surrounding suburbs in exchange for $50 million annual fee, and an additional $4.5 million assistance fund.

Helms and Nash also point out that the deal is a continuation of Detroit's ownership of the utility, but will make room for the city's nearby suburbs to have more of a voice in the operations. Detroit has 3,000 miles of local pipes and if the authority is officially established, the city will lease 300 miles of suburban pipes to their respective local communities.

"We talked about privatization and no one really wanted that," says Nash "none of the suburbs wanted to look at that in any serious way," he tells Laura. However, Lynna Kracheck with the Food and Water Watch is in opposition of the new deal. Kracheck and others who disagree with the move toward a regional authority, say the deal isn't a real solution to the longstanding issues concerning Detroit's water.