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Water rates rising for Michigan residents

Published: Dec. 3, 2021 at 6:06 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In a state almost surrounded by water, water still comes at a price -- and that price is rising.

In a recent report conducted by the University of Michigan Water Center, researchers collected water rates from across the state. They found a significant increase from 1980 to 2018 in water bills. Jennifer Read, director of U of M Water Center, said the increase in water impacts lower-income communities most.

“Water prices have been increasing over the past few decades and in particular it is affecting those folks who are at the bottom 10% of income in the state,” Read said.

Although unpleasant, experts said the price increase is necessary to maintain quality infrastructure.

“Over time it’s been difficult to raise those rates because, out of sight, out of mind until your infrastructure starts to deteriorate,” said Read. “So what we have happened right now is kind of the perfect storm, if you will of rates that have been artificially low overtime and through a check coming due or a bill coming due to replace infrastructure.”

In communities with aging infrastructure that has yet to be replaced, those flipping the bill must be kept in mind.

“We also at the same time need to be very aware that there’s a portion of our society where those rates are kind of an unfair burden,” said Read.

In Lansing, the Board of Water and Light (BWL) hasn’t raised its prices since 2020. BWL underwent extensive infrastructure upgrades starting in 2004 and ending in 2015.

Amy Adamy, of BWL, BWL understands the frustration when consumer prices change.

“I don’t think anybody enjoys paying more for a bill. I don’t think anybody likes to see the cost of inflation go up on any good or service. But I think that there’s a deeper understanding that we’re providing a quality service.” said Adamy.

BWL said its seen an overall increase in water prices throughout Michigan in recent years. However, BWL said they have no plans to raise their rates until at least November of next year.

Copyright 2021 WILX. All rights reserved.

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