Wayne County sells sewage plant for $57.5 million

Nicquel Terry Ellis
The Detroit News

Wayne County will sell its sewage disposal system to a group of downriver communities for $57.5 million and use the proceeds to support retiree healthcare, pensions and other unfunded obligations.

The county commission approved the sale of the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority on Thursday. 

County officials say they are transferring the system, which includes the wastewater treatment facility on Central Steet in Wyandotte, to the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority.

The authority also will receivethe equipment, interceptors and financial accounts of the disposal system. 

Wayne County said it plans to use proceeds from the sale toward its unfunded liabilities, including retiree healthcare and pensions. 

“I view this deal as a true win-win for everyone involved,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said. “Selling the system to DUWA was an important goal in our Recovery Plan to stabilize county finances and streamline operations. It also ensures the communities serviced by the Downriver Sewage system have complete control over it, which is something they told us they wanted.”

The Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority consists of Allen Park, Belleville, Brownstown Township, Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, Lincoln Park, River Rouge, Riverview, Romulus, Southgate, Taylor, Van Buren Township and Wyandotte.

Taylor Mayor Rick Sollars lauded the approval of the sale. 

“This agreement is a win for the communities that make up the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority, which now have control of their own future,” Sollars said. “It is also a major victory for good government, as leaders from different communities and differing backgrounds and experiences came together to join hands for the greater good of their residents.” 

The deal has been in the works since 2016, when the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority and Wayne County reached a tentative agreement to sell the sewage disposal system. The sale required approval from the county commission and the Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority board. 

The Downriver Utility Wastewater Authority will set sewage system rates for its communities as the new owner instead of the county.