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MI lawmakers crafting bills to address water affordability and end water shut-offs

Michigan legislative leaders say they expect lots of attention this year to water affordability and quality issues, starting with a bill that would declare water to be a human right.
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Michigan legislators say a package of bills will tackle the issue of water affordability.

Legislation will soon be introduced to help people who cannot afford water.

Since early spring, legislators have been working with municipalities, state agencies, the American Water Works Association, and water advocates to craft the legislation.

Senator Stephanie Chang, a Democrat from Detroit, is one of the sponsors. She says the package is a multi-pronged effort to help water systems and people.

Part of that legislation is a two dollar a month per meter charge that will go into a water affordability fund set up by the state.

“Which will then fund the affordability program that we’ve built out in legislation to ensure that every single person has water bills that they can afford across the whole state of Michigan,” Chang said.

The state senator says Michigan can be a leader in implementing a program where no one is paying more than three percent of their income for water and water shutoff protections are put in place.

For nearly a decade, protestors and advocates for affordable water have called for an end to water shut offs for low-income families.

Michigan Radio and its Great Lakes News Collaborative partners explored the many factors involved in water's true cost in this series.

Correction: A typo in the quote from Senator Chang was corrected.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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