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Detroit will consider affordable water plan

Water faucet
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Lack of funds threaten to shut down a monitoring system for southeast Michigan's drinking water.

Detroit's city council will consider a plan to lower the cost of water for the city's poorest residents. The plan is part of a report prepared by the council's Blue Ribbon Panel on Affordability. The panel will present its report Monday. Among the solutions it offers is a tiered rate system that would charge customers lower rates for lower consumption, and higher rates for higher amounts of consumption.

The plan offers incentives to use less water, encouraging conservation as well as reducing costs for customers. According to Third District Councilman Scott Benson, 40% of the city's residents live in poverty. The plan would apply equally to all customers, regardless of income.

The Council will discuss the proposal Monday in the Public Health and Safety Standing Committee.

"Detroit has one of the best water systems in the world, but we have some of the most expensive water in the country, as well," says Benson. "We have fixed rate payments that we have to make on bonds and other improvements to our current infrastructure, and we've had a reduction in population, so we have fewer people to pay for the same amount of infrastructure improvements. Water has become more expensive and we also have a high rate of poverty."

Benson says the city is looking for a plan that will be sustainable indefinitely. Any changes could take up to several years to implement.

"If we help our customers, we help Detroit," Benson says. "We need to make sure everyone in the city of Detroit is water secure and can pay for the water they use."

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