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Water authority approves rate increase in Metro Detroit

faucet running water
Marina Shemesh
Public Domain

Water and sewer bills might get higher for some people in Southeast Michigan.

The Great Lakes Water Authority, which serves communities in eight counties near metro Detroit, has approved an increase beginning this July.

During a Wednesday public forum, the board voted unanimously for a 3.7% hike in wholesale water rates and a 2.4% increase in sewer rates for the 2023 fiscal year.

Laurel Smith, a Melvindale resident, said during public comment that she and other community members are already rationing water and cannot afford to pay more.

"Every city resident here, we have to live on budgets as well," Smith said. "I cannot tell you what a burden this water bill causes every time we have an increase."

Melvindale Mayor Pro Tempore Joe Jackson spoke during the meeting.

"We have a low- to middle- income community here," he said. "We can’t sustain the increases that we’re getting."

DeMeeko Williams, chief director of Hydrate Detroit, agreed. "Hell to the no. We do not have the money," he said.

Williams suggested the board wait until the pandemic has ended to consider pay hikes.

The board members blamed the pay increase in part to the nearly $52 million they say they are owed in unpaid water and sewer bills in Highland Park.

A projected budget from the board shows additional rate increases are expected through 2027.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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