Michigan has had plenty of bad press in recent years about water-related issues; lead levels in drinking water and flooding to name a few. However, some good news came at the end of June when Detroit’s Water and Sewerage Department announced that it will invest in upgrades to the city’s water and sewer systems, and the city would also invest $500 million in the endeavor over five years.
These upgrades are, in part, related to Michigan’s revised “Lead and Copper Rule” which “establishes action levels (AL) for lead and copper based on a 90th percentile level of tap water samples.” This means that action is required if levels of lead exceed 15 parts per billion. According to DWSD President Gary Brown, Detroit has levels around 4 parts per billion which are safe. Most of the funds will go toward the replacement of water and sewer lines, many of which are around 90 years old, and any lead pipes found in the process will be replaced. The upgrades will also include stormwater piping as there are issues with the current combined system which has stormwater and sewage run through the same lines, especially in times of flooding as recently experienced in May.
This year, Detroit plans to replace 29 miles of water line and 19 miles of sewer line, costing $57.4 million; remarkably, the cost of the projects is not scheduled to be passed on to homeowners. Instead, the projects’ costs are to be covered by the annual lease of Detroit water infrastructure by the Great Lakes Water Authority valued at $50 million, “increased collection rates from DWSD, and potential sale of municipal bonds.” Also of benefit to the community is Detroit’s pledge to use local contractors for more than fifty percent of the project.
 “You Are HereEGLE Water Drinking Water Community Water Supply.” EGLE – Lead and Copper Rule, 2019, www.michigan.gov/egle/0,9429,7-135-3313_3675_3691-9677–,00.html.
 Mondry, Aaron. “Detroit to Invest $500M over Five Years to Upgrade City’s Water and Sewer Systems.” Curbed Detroit, Curbed Detroit, 27 June 2019, detroit.curbed.com/2019/6/27/18761272/detroit-water-sewerage-department-dwsd-upgrades-500m.
Photo Credit: David Overcash, Flickr