Oakland Co. gets $3.8M from state for water authority

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

The state has awarded Oakland County a $3.8 million grant for the new regional water authority, officials said Monday.

Bob Daddow, deputy Oakland County executive, said the county plans to use the money to help fund the transition from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the authority.

“We’re glad the state came to the table with some dollars to help facilitate the effort,” Daddow said. “It’s a huge endeavor, fraught with a lot of issues.”

Oakland County’s grant is part of more than $6.6 million the state announced Monday to 16 local units of government through its Competitive Grant Assistance Program.

In Metro Detroit, awards also were given to Rochester Hills ($17,000 to study a possible water authority among three communities), Highland Park ($401,000 for consolidation of fire dispatch with Detroit and Hamtramck) and Melvindale (grants of $480,000 and $31,250 for consolidation of jail and building inspection services with Allen Park).

“The municipalities that have been awarded funding in this round are continuing to take important steps toward cost-saving collaborations and in many cases, full consolidations of municipal services,” Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement Monday.

Talked about for decades, the Great Lakes Water Authority became a reality last month after officials for the city of Detroit and Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties hammered out a deal to create it.

Under the authority, Detroit continues ownership of the area’s water and sewage system, but the suburbs will have more of a stake in its operations.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department will provide maintenance and service in the city and the authority will handle responsibilities for about 3 million suburban customers.

It’ll be run by a six-member governing board: two appointments from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan; one each from the executives of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb; and one appointed by Snyder.

The agreement calls for the city to lease infrastructure to suburban communities in exchange for a 40-year, $50 million annual fee and an annual $4.5 million payment assistance fund.

The $50 million can be used only for Detroit water-related repairs, maintenance and improvements. The money will come from revenue generated by the water rates for Detroiters, as well as suburban users. Rate increases will be capped at 4 percent over the next 10 years.

And the assistance fund would be used to help pay water bills for people throughout southeast Michigan who can’t afford them.

Detroit officials approved joining the authority in September and commissioners for the three suburban counties followed suit earlier this month.


(313) 222-2058