DWSD’s Lifeline Plan for Water Affordability Misses the Mark

News from the People’s Water Board Coalition

June 28, 2022

Contact: Lynna Kaucheck, lynna@progressmichigan.org

DWSD’s Lifeline Plan for Water Affordability Misses the Mark
Plan fails to address Detroit’s most vulnerable populations

DETROIT – Today, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) presented their pilot Lifeline Plan for Water Affordability to the Board of Water Commissioners, which approved the plan unanimously after many public comments asking the Board to wait at least 45 days for broad community engagement. The People’s Water Board Coalition released the following statement in response:

“While we appreciate that DWSD and the Board of Water Commissioners (BoWC) have finally realized that Detroiters both need and deserve a water affordability plan; what was approved today is not based on facts and doesn’t accurately address the challenges that Detroiters have been facing for nearly two decades. Further, DWSD did not meet with the People’s Water Board Coalition to discuss this plan nor have they provided us with the actual plan.

“An inclining tiered rate water plan is not a true water affordability plan, and it will not appropriately address the city’s most vulnerable populations. The Lifeline plan put forward by DWSD is a low-rate ration plan, i.e., income-eligible customers can use up to 4,500 gallons of water per month before they are charged at higher rates for additional usage. The Detroit City Council should review the rate restructuring proposal for equity and fairness, especially as infrastructure costs rise.

“The devastating COVID-19 pandemic and unaffordable housing crisis have forced Detroiters to move in with friends and family members, thereby filling homes with multiple families and water users. DWSD’s estimated daily usage of 37 gallons per person is very underestimated. Actual usage is closer to two to three times higher than that (as estimated by the city of Philadelphia) which will put more households in higher rate tiers. Therefore, they will not benefit from the Lifeline plan.

“A true water affordability plan is based on income, like the plan approved by Detroit City Council in 2005, and is based in fact and addresses root causes. We welcome the opportunity to work with DWSD and the Board of Water Commissioners to improve this plan, to create an authentic water affordability plan, and we will hold BoC accountable to their word that ‘we can make it better and we will.’ Our goal has always been to ensure that all Detroiters have access to safe, affordable drinking water and sanitation and we will continue to fight to make that happen.”

PWBC calls upon the Detroit City Council to review today’s decisions by the DWSD Board of Water Commissioners before the rate restructuring and Lifeline plans are implemented.


The People’s Water Board Coalition advocates for the human rights to water and sanitation and equitable access and affordability for impacted communities.


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