What do they do?
DWSD manages City drinking water and its drainage for residents. It ensures that the city has safe drinking water and that the city infrastructure can drain contaminated water (sewerage) from people’s homes, as well as water from storms and the flooding of Detroit River. It also oversees the accounts and payments of water customers. Under state law, the cost of water and sewer rates must be paid by the users of that water. The City can not subsidize DWSD with any funds.
How is the department organized?
DWSD is comprised of five operating areas:
- Customer Care works with customers on issues like billing and starting/stopping service.
- Meter Operations installs, manages, and maintains water meters which are connected to homes and businesses to track water usage for billing.
- Field Services is responsible for the water infrastructure that brings water to our homes, such as water mains and water treatment centers.
- Finance and Procurement manages the department budget, works with contractors, and purchases needed equipment.
- Administration covers the overall operations of the department and includes the Department Director as well as offices like public relations and human resources.
The Mayoral appointed Detroit Board of Water Commissioners commands the department and appoints its Director and Deputy Director. (Charter Sect. 7-1201)
The Great Lakes Water Authority
The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) was established in 2014 as part of Detroit’s bankruptcy court case. It provides water and sewer services as well as sets water rates for seven counties including Wayne but excluding the city of Detroit, where DWSD provides those services. GLWA is able to do this by leasing the water system (everything that brings water from the Detroit river to our homes and back) from the City of Detroit. The lease is for 40 years and as part of it, GLWA absorbed DWSD debt. DWSD in turn uses the money from the lease to improve Detroit’s water infrastructure. GWLA is overseen by a board of directors with one appointed representative from Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne County, one from the State of Michigan, and two from the city of Detroit (appointed by the Mayor).
How can I get involved?
GLWA’s board of directors and the Detroit Board of Water Commissioners each have meetings that are open to the public.
Find those meeting dates at:
Additionally, DWSD is overseen by the City Council Public Health and Safety Committee, whose meetings you can attend.
Finally, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy has a statewide drinking water advisory council and requires the city of Detroit to establish a water advisory council. To learn more about the statewide council and its meetings visit https://www.michigan.gov/egle/0,9429,7-135-3313_3675_76638-490466–,00.html.
As of 2020, the Detroit Water Advisory Council had not been established. Contact your council person, if they aren’t on the Public Health and Safety Committee, contact one of those members as well to learn more about the Detroit Water Advisory Council and how to get involved.