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Water Affordability Solutions
In May of 2021, our office was awarded an Affordability and Planning Grant by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to accomplish many objectives related to water affordability while maintaining water quality and safety standards. The grant deliverables required we create customized water affordability plans to meet the needs of a larger community, the City of Pontiac, as well as a smaller community, the Charter Township of Royal Oak. After nearly 15 months of research, we are proud to release our report and findings to the public, which include a scalable water affordability framework designed to assist water systems of all sizes across the state.
To view our report, click here.
To view a condensed version of the report for policymakers, clickhere.
To share your comments on our affordability plan, click here.
What is the WRC's Community Water Partnership?
WRC's Community Water Partnership is an initiative comprised of a variety of short-term and long-term water assistance programs and policies designed to balance the amount of funding needed to maintain healthy, safe, and reliable water services, at a cost that all customers can afford.
Providing safe drinking water and reliable sewer services is necessary to protect public health. This requires water utilities, like the WRC, to maintain or replace aging water and sewer systems, or infrastructure. This creates a challenge in balancing the need to properly invest in water and sewer systems, while keeping water and sewer rates affordable for all customers. This balance is critical because water and sewer systems serve the entire community, so when bills are unaffordable and go unpaid, the entire community is impacted because the costs of unpaid bills are potentially recovered from other customers. In short, water affordability is an issue that affects all water customers.
There is no single solution that will eliminate the problems related to water affordability. Instead, this Community Water Partnership presents several programs, strategies, and policy updates to create a path toward water affordability. We established goals, components that meet those goals and measures to guide us along the way. There are also clear actions that can be taken by customers, communities, local leaders, and elected officials to work in partnership toward a sustainable and equitable water future for all.
What are the program goals?
1) Path to Zero Shutoffs: Provide multiple options for customers to address past-due bills and manage current payments to minimize the number of households subject to water service disconnection due to non-payment.
2) Quality Services: Improve the level of services the WRC provides without imposing an additional financial burden on communities and customers.
3) Water Security: Increase the amount of water assistance each eligible household receives under existing regional, state, and federal programs to provide immediate relief for water bills.
4) Sustainable Funding: Obtain a sustainable outside funding source to maximize revenue available for service and system improvement and minimize uncollected billing revenue.
5) Community Water Partnerships: Establish authentic, active, and engaged partnerships with customers, communities, action agencies, regional providers, elected officials and other stakeholders to advance the principles of water equity as a collaborative effort.
What measures are currently in place?
- Voluntary extension of the water shut-off moratorium.
- Short-term customer assistance programs for eligible customers, including the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) and Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP).
- Created a new position: WRC Water Affordability Coordinator.
- Dedicated water affordability webpage with up-to-date information and resources.
- Awards of local, state, and federal grants to support water affordability efforts.
- Formation of a Water Affordability Coalition with quarterly meetings.
- Capital replacement and maintenance programs.