Monday, October 11, 2010

House Candidate Kurt Heise Proposes Regional Water Authority for Southeast Michigan

The former Director of the Wayne County Department of Environment, and Republican candidate for the open 20th District House seat in Plymouth, Kurt Heise, has outlined a 6-point plan for replacing the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) with a new regional water authority (Southeast Michigan Water Quality Authority). Heise envisions a regional authority operated by a private company.
My plan would keep ownership of the system with the people of Detroit, but would transfer decision making to a regional board elected by community customers of which Detroit would be a member," Heise said. "State law would also be amended to allow the new Authority to refinance existing and future improvements, saving hundreds of millions of dollars that could stabilize water bills and provide new investment for infrastructure repair both in Detroit and the suburbs.
Mr. Heise is not the first to to promoting the idea of a regional authority -- legislation was introduced in 1999 (S.B. 781) and again in 2003 (H.B. 4206) -- nor is he alone. Earlier this year, in April, 2010, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan issued a report (here) which detailed the financial benefits to the City of Detroit of selling DWSD to a regional authority.  Op-Ed pieces in the Detroit Free Press (here) have also pointed in the same direction. The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also advanced the idea almost 10 years ago in several articles (here and here).


Update: The chorus of voices calling for a regional approach to water and sewer matters has grown louder following the federal indictments announced on December 15, 2010. Many of the allegations focus on corruption within DWSD.