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Posted: 01/22/14

Changes to water
contract increase rates

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Village trustees are expecting utility rate increases due to changes to its contract with Detroit.
       The Village Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on Jan. 13 to approve of amendments to its 30-year water services contract with the City of Detroit. Trustees Mike Cregar and Russell Rinke were not present.
       James Burton, a principal engineer with Hubbell, Roth, and Clark, said the amendment allows Detroit's water board to approve of contracts instead of City Council. He said the change means Detroit Water and Sewerage (DWSD) re-evaluates how much water the village uses.
       Burton said the village educated its clients about conserving water, which combined with wet weather patterns and the loss of Blue Water Trucking as a customer, caused a drop in its usage. Blue Water Trucking alone was 10 percent of the volume.
       Burton said Romeo wasn't at fault for trying to be conservative with water use.
       "You've done everything right, but volumes are going down on average, and plus you lost a major user, so Detroit came back and said your volumes are going way down so we need to make that adjustment," Burton said.
       The DWSD area is expected to see an average 4 percent increase, though the specific rate increases won't be announced for another month. Burton said the effects on village rates would be determined in the summer.
       "How that impacts the individual propery owner is not a Detroit matter, it's really how to distribute that cost," he said.
       Village Clerk Marian McLaughlin said the village will work with its auditors, Stewart, Beauvais and Whipple, to examine its industrial rates to cover all the rates that Detroit charges.
       Village President Mike Lee expressed some disappointment with the situation, saying the village educated its clients about usage of water on non-peak hours but is now paying for it.
       "We want to be environmentally sound, but doing that, Detroit kind of punished us for that," he said outside of the meeting.


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