Detroit’s Lifeline plan offers flat water bills as residents struggle to pay their bills


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The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) has announced that it will implement a set of fixed water service rates to provide Detroit residents with affordable water based on their income.

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“For nearly 10 years, we debated with water advocates whether Detroit could implement a true income-based water accessibility plan,” said DWSD Director Gary Brown. “There were a lot of differences of opinion on the subject, and in most cases we agreed on the need but not on the path.”

According to Fox 2 Detroit, the Lifeline Plan is Detroit’s first water accessibility plan and will help approximately 100,000 households on state food assistance afford water for $18 a month. . The plan is aimed at three-person households to start and registration starts July 1.

Those not enrolled in assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Assistance Program (FAP) will pay $43 or $56 per month, depending on whether they are eligible and their level of income. Those enrolled in the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) will automatically receive a flat rate under the new plan.

Here are Lifeline’s three flat rates based on income:

  • If you receive SNAP/FAP benefits: You pay $18 per month for water, sewer and drainage services.
  • If you are a low-income (non-SNAP/FAP) household: You pay $43 per month for your total DWSD bill.
  • If you are a moderate income (non-SNAP/FAP) household: You pay $56 per month for your total DWSD bill.

Acknowledging the city’s past water service missteps and the current pandemic-influenced shutdown moratorium, the plan has the full support of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who in turn stressed the importance of support from state and federal governments to help sustain the plan for years to come.

“The new Lifeline plan is a major step toward that goal, and enrollees will continue to participate in a moratorium,” Duggan said in a press release. “We call on all elected officials and community leaders to join us in ensuring this new program is funded long-term by state and federal dollars.”

According to ClickOnDetroit, the average home in Detroit uses between 2,300 and 3,000 gallons of water per month. The Lifeline plan will cover up to 4,500 gallons per month. Households that exceed the monthly limit will be charged a fee.

Activist groups like Moratorium Now and the People’s Water Board Coalition appreciate the Lifeline plan but argue it needs to be expanded to help all households pay their bills, whether they have three residents or a dozen.

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DWSD’s water network of more than 2,700 miles of transmission and distribution lines – and nearly 3,000 miles of sewer collection lines – serves more than 200,000 Detroit residential and commercial accounts representing a population of the city’s nearly 680,000, according to the city’s website.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to make a career change in 2016 and focus full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical degree in communications and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience writing for the retail industry.

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