Investigation Explores Rate Increases for Great Lakes Water

Feb. 8, 2019

A new study estimates rate increases for Great Lakes drinking water may have doubled or even tripled in the past 10 years

A new investigation found that the cost of water to ratepayers served by Great Lakes water has doubled and even tripled in some water districts in the last 10 years. The investigation from American Public Media and Great Lakes Today dug into water district record from Cleveland, Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Duluth.

According to NPR, the Great Lakes is one of the largest sources of freshwater in the world, running more than 750 miles across eight states. However, the investigation found that a decrease in population in major Great Lakes cities, coupled with aging infrastructure, has contributed to increasing water bills.

The investigation found more than 40,000 homes in Cleveland alone faced water shutoffs between 2010 and 2017. In Detroit, based off of monitoring a $40 fee for disconnecting and reconnecting water from the city’s water services, the analysis determined that the highest concentrations of shutoffs occurred in mostly poor black and Latino neighborhoods, reported NPR.

Overall, the study found that water and sewer rates have more than doubled in the last eight years in Cleveland, averaging $1,300 per year for a family of four. Likewise, Detroit water and sewer rates have nearly doubled and in Chicago, rates have nearly tripled. The analysis points to a decreasing population and the country’s aging water infrastructure as likely reasons for the rate increases.

Read more about the investigation here.

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