Officials in Metro Detroit have formally agreed to create a new regional water authority.
Detroit leaders say the deal will allow the city to improve water service and give all stakeholders a voice in setting water rates.
For many decades officials in Detroit’s suburbs accused the city, which controlled water service for about 4 million customers in southeast Michigan, of unfairly inflating rates to cover repairs to the antiquated system.Detroit officials countered that the suburbs tacked on extra charges to water rates.
Now the system will be governed by a new Great Lakes Water Authority, created while Detroit was in bankruptcy proceedings and ostensibly designed to give the entire region a say in setting rates.
The authority will lease Detroit’s water infrastructure for 40 years in exchange for providing the city $50 million annually to rebuild crumbling pipelines.
It will also set-up a $4.5 million dollar fund to help low-income customers pay water bills.
Some suburban officials complain the deal does more to shift Detroit’s debt to other communities than to help water customers in the entire region.