Detroit water system ranks 12th in customer satisfaction, study finds
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department ranked 12th out of 16 Midwest systems in customer satisfaction, according to a study from a marketing company released Wednesday.
J.D. Power's 2019 Water Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study surveyed people served by 89 water utilities that deliver water to at least 400,000 in the Midwest, Northeast, South and West.
Satisfaction was measured by examining 33 attributes in six categories: delivery, price, conservation, billing and payment, communications and customer service.
Each utility earned scores on a 1,000 point-scale. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department had 702, below the average of 711 for Midwest utilities, according to the report.
Indiana American Water and Missouri American Water ranked first and second among the Midwest systems, scoring 759 and 742, respectively.
Detroit's system outranked those in Columbus, Chicago, Kansas City and Cleveland, which all ranked below 700.
According to the J.D. Power report, water quality issues among the national systems dropped to 29% of all residential water customers from a high of 34% in 2016.
“However, water utilities nationwide are staring down a period of massive infrastructure investment, construction and possible disruption. Effective communication will be critical throughout the process," said Andrew Heath, senior director of the utility practice at J.D. Power.
The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department serves more than 200,000 Detroit residential and commercial accounts. Its network include more than 2,700 miles of transmission and distribution mains as well as nearly 3,000 miles of sewer collection piping, according to the department website.
Through a 40-year lease, the Great Lakes Water Authority oversees the department's treatment plants, major water transmission mains, sewage interceptors and related facilities for $50 million annually.
A report written by researchers from the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at the University of California Berkeley questioned whether that amount accurately reflects the value of the city-owned asset.
City officials have said the department leveraged the lease payments to fund a five-year, $500 million capital improvement project to rehabilitate its infrastructure.