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Detroit Water and Sewer Services Will Soon Get Another Price Hike

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Last summer, tens of thousands of Detroit residents had to deal with a disruption to their water service — and while this service has since been restored, it’s about to get a lot more expensive.

According to CBS Detroit, officials from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department recently approved an average rate increase of 9.3% for water customers living in the city and its suburbs.

The Board of Water Commissioners unanimously approved the rate change, which will go into effect for the 2015-16 fiscal year starting in July. These price changes will help fund a proposed $1 billion plan for capital improvements and long-needed repairs over the next five years, such as unclogging older sewer lines primarily obstructed by tree roots.

The rate increase varies depending on where one lives. Those living within Detroit’s city limits will pay 3.4% more for water and 16.7% more for sewer services. For suburban residents, there will be an 11.3% increase for water and 1.1% for sewer services.

These are significant rate increases — especially considering the fact that water rates have gone up by 119% over the last decade. It’s easy to see why many residents can’t afford these costs for such a basic staple of life. Currently, Detroit’s residents pay $75 per month for their water, compared to the national average of $40 per month, according toNext City.

Detroit’s water problem, in which the city cuts off water service to homes that have outstanding balances regardless of whether they have the means to pay them or not, has even captured the attention of the United Nations for its draconian nature.

“Disconnection (of water service) due to non-payment is only permissible if it can be shown that the householder is able to pay but is not paying — in other words, that the tariff is affordable,” a UN representative said.

Activists are currently calling for the establishment of a water affordability program that would give low-income houses in Detroit a way to have access to water without going through financial hardship, Next City reports.

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