Friday, January 31, 2014

Amended Plan Emerges for New Regional Water Authority, Emergency Manager Slashes Proposed Payments to City of Detroit

The Detroit News is reporting here today on a revised plan to convert DWSD into a regional water authority that would require dramatically lower payments to the City of Detroit and cede control of the governing board to the suburban customer base. 

Highlights of the leaked confidential proposal reportedly include: 
  • Payments to Detroit would be $47 million per year for 40 years -- $1.88 billion. This is a far cry from the $70 million per year, up to $9 billion in total, that the Emergency Manager originally floated in proposals with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. 
  • Detroit would retain ownership of DWSD facilities, but operations and control would be transferred to a new nine-member board that would include two members each from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, two city appointees, and one member appointed by Governor Rick Snyder. 
  • The new authority would be called the "Great Lakes Water and Sewer Authority," rather than the "Metropolitan Area Water and Sewer Authority." 
  • Detroit would become a wholesale customer of the newly created authority.
Question: Is the new name of the proposed authority, "Great Lakes Water and Sewer Authority" -- which sounds more inclusive than "Metropolitan Area Water and Sewer Authority" -- meant to serve as an olive branch of sorts to the City of Flint and Genesee County? They left DWSD last year to start their own water authority and plan to spend $360 million or more just for the pipeline.  

If this plan is adopted, it will be interesting to see who Governor Snyder appoints as the ninth member of the Board. However, it doesn't make sense to appoint someone unless they're part of the customer base, right? 

What do you think? 

I'd like to hear your thoughts, either by online comment or privately

For more about DWSD Update, click here  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Detroit Emergency Manager Reportedly Considers a "Regional Authority" Minus 2/3 of the Region

The Detroit Free Press reports this morning that Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr is contemplating a regional water authority without Oakland and Macomb Counties if they don't get on board with his plan that would have the suburban communities pay the City $9 billion over 40 years to operate DWSD under the auspices of a new authority. That would leave the City of Detroit and Wayne County, whose finances are not much better than Detroit's, to form the core of a new authority.  

Comment: Huh, what?!?  Cut off about 2/3 of your paying customer base, and go it alone with Wayne County? You can't be serious? The old expression - "cutting off your nose to spite your face" comes to mind when I read this story. 

For more about DWSD Update, click here.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sinkhole Hits Close to Home (UPDATED)

On January 18, 2014, an 8-foot wide sinkhole appeared at the corner of East Jefferson Ave. and Randolph Streets in Downtown Detroit.  The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is located just a few blocks north of the sinkhole at 735 Randolph; the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center is in the immediate background; and General Motors is right across Jefferson in the Renaissance Center. 

Sinkholes are created when the surface layer of earth collapses, which can occur due to water erosion or the failure of man-made infrastructure, such as the collapse of a sewer main.  

This story was first reported here by 

Update (1/20):  The story of this sinkhole has gone international. The British newspaper, The Independent, is reporting on the story (here), and included a video of repair efforts. Repairs could take a week to complete.

For more about DWSD Update, click here.