A tentative deal between the Nice Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) and town of Highland Park might lastly carry an finish to a 10-year dispute over unpaid water payments.
Introduced Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose workplace helped to dealer the deal, the tentative settlement commits the state of Michigan to funding historic infrastructure repairs within the Southeast Michigan metropolis and inside the GLWA service space. The town and water authority would even be chargeable for extra commitments beneath their aspect of the tentative settlement.
“I’m proud that GLWA and Highland Park are one step nearer to an settlement to make sure that we are able to defend entry to ingesting water for each household locally,” mentioned Whitmer. “An settlement will assist transfer this neighborhood transfer ahead, decrease prices, and implement a fairer system for surrounding communities.”
Permitted unanimously Wednesday evening by the Highland Park Metropolis Council, the deal would dismiss ongoing lawsuits involving roughly $55 million in disputed water payments, together with a virtually $24 million judgment towards Highland Park. It’s anticipated to go earlier than the GLWA board subsequent week.
In October, busloads of Highland Park residents and members of the Individuals’s Water Board Coalition arrived on the Michigan Capitol to advocate for residents going through the burden of the unpaid water tab. Activists from Flint and Benton Harbor — who’ve contended with lead-tainted water — joined them.
Below the tentative settlement, the state of Michigan has dedicated to:
- Fund set up of grasp water and non permanent sewer meters in Highland Park.
- Fund water primary and repair line substitute efforts inside Highland Park.
- Launch a $25 million sewer infrastructure grant for GLWA that was beforehand appropriated.
- Fund a $5 million grant for GLWA for ingesting water infrastructure.
- Revise an administrative consent order imposed by the Division of Surroundings, Nice Lakes, and Vitality (EGLE) to incorporate the settlement phrases.
“Our aim has at all times been to resolve the state of affairs in a manner that one, doesn’t put this huge monetary judgment on the backs of Highland Park residents, and two, addresses long-term water infrastructure wants of Highland Park,” mentioned state state Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit).
By changing the water mains and repair strains, town is anticipated to have the ability to comprise the water inside the system, leading to decrease prices for residents, whereas stopping leaks into the sewage system.
Highland Park’s water infrastructure is almost 120 years outdated, leading to an estimated 70% lack of its water attributable to leaks.
As well as, by putting in water grasp meters on water strains and ample non permanent meters, its believed an correct accounting of residents’ water and sewage utilization could be supplied and assist forestall future disputes over water and sewer payments.
Lastly, the state has dedicated to offsetting prices for residents within the GLWA service space by offering $30 million for infrastructure upgrades inside the regional water system.
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