Water Affordability Program

2005 Water Affordability Program

Below is a link to the original 2005 Water Affordability Program that was developed by Roger Colton, municipal utility expert on affordability programs; and presented in January 2005 to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and Detroit City Council (approved but not implemented).

This is the plan supported for implementation by the People’s Water Board — a coalition of three dozen grassroots groups, NGO’s, faith-based, community-based and labor organizations advocating for the human rights to clean, safe, affordable and accessible water and sanitation; and protection of the Great Lakes public water commons.

The 2005 Water Affordability Program is an income-based program designed to stop water shutoffs based on a household’s inability to pay for the costs of residential water and sewage bills. In the City of Detroit, thousands of low income residents experience water shutoffs each year. City officials have responded to the individual and public health crisis by promoting assistance programs designed to help low income resident manage current and outstanding bills with payment plans that, for low income households, are often unmanageable and unsustainable with limited and fixed-income budgets. Despite several years of and millions of dollars in unsuccessful efforts to require low income customer payment compliance through shutoff threats and shutoff executions, the City of Detroit continues to fall short of United Nations’ call upon Detroit officials to make water and sanitation affordable for its residents (2014).

View the United Nations’ film on Detroit water shutoffs (2015)


FULL PLAN:2005 Detroit Water Affordability Program by Roger Colton for DWSD (46 pages, MWRO google doc)

Prepared By:
Roger Colton
Fisher Sheehan & Colton
Public Finance and General Economics
34 Warwick Road, Belmont, MA 02478
617-484-0597 (voice) *** 617-484-0594 (fax)
roger@fsconline.com (e-mail)


SUMMARY: 2005 Detroit Water Affordability Program (1 page, MWRO google doc)

For questions, please contact:
Maureen Taylor, State Chair of MWRO (313) 964-0618
Marilyn Mullane, Attorney and Director of Michigan Legal Services (313) 964-4130
Lorray S.C. Brown, Co-Managing and Consumer Law Attorney at Michigan Poverty Law Program (734) 998-6100


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


2022 People's Water Board Coalition