Coalition fights against water rates in Jackson

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JACKSON, MI (WILX) -- A group is fighting to make sure people who live in Jackson don't have to pay too much for their water.

On Monday, the Coalition for Clean and Affordable Water issued a statement announcing it wants "to protect Jackson-area residents and businesses from the City of Jackson's costly lead service line replacement program, which is one of the most expensive proposals in the nation."

The coalition said it is urging the city to delay the vote on a proposal to replace lead water lines saying that people in the community need more time to understand the project and how much it will cost.

The coalition said it has "grave concerns" about the varying price tags of the program which it says ranges from $184 and $650 million.

“As concerned businesses and citizens, we can’t stand idly by while the City Council considers approving one of the most expensive lead replacement programs in the nation, making a costly mistake that will affect all of us for years to come,” said John Crist, interim CEO of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. “It makes no sense that just up the road in Lansing, their line replacements were completed in 2016 at a cost of $3,700 per line while Jackson’s current proposal could cost between $17,000 and $38,000 per line.”

The coalition said the Jackson City Council is expected to have a presentation on the program at their meeting Tuesday, Feb. 11, however, the City of Jackson said while water rate increases will be discussed at the meeting, a vote will not be taking place.

The City of Jackson released a response to the coalition's statement saying the group "sites unofficial figures that were gathered over the past year from conversations with city officials, news reports, and unverified online statistics."

The City of Jackson said no final numbers have been formally proposed to the city council nor have they been accepted at this time.

The city said it "continues to work on behalf of residents to find solutions to the proposed water rate increases and is dedicated to making sure any increase is instituted in the most equitable way possible."

To read statements from both the City of Jackson and the coalition, click to the right of this article.

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