Thursday, February 13, 2014

A New Plan for Water Services in Southeast Michigan

My view is that DWSD has broken the contracts with its wholesale customers in the suburbs.  The question becomes, what do we replace them with?  I haven’t thought this out completely, but I want to keep the discussion moving.  Here’s a general outline of my thoughts:

I.    Long range goals

         A.    Prop up Detroit.  Somebody has to do it.  It should be the State of Michigan or the federal government, not Detroit’s suburbs.  It’s too big a burden.  Gov. Snyder should be pressed for a solution. He wants to be re-elected.  Let him prove his mettle.

B.    Form a regional water authority.  Include participation by counties like Monroe, Washtenaw, Livingston and St. Clair.  Elect members of its governing board. Detroit should be included as part of Wayne County. There should be one elected board member for every 350,000 county residents.  Any counties with a smaller population would have one board member.

C.    The regional water authority would own and operate all water-related facilities in the region.  All existing facilities would be appraised and the net value, if any, reimbursed over time and debt thereon assumed by the new authority.

D.    Outmoded facilities would be phased out and replaced.  Federal revolving fund legislation needs to be updated and expanded to include a broader range of infrastructure.

1.  freshwater:  negotiate with KWA to expand into the northern suburbs.

2.  wastewater:  replace the central facility in Detroit with several smaller, state-of-the-art installations throughout the region and/or expand and modernize existing plants in Pontiac, Warren, Ann Arbor, etc.

II.    Strategies for implementation:  Stay tuned.

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