We appreciate Gary Brown's response to the letter that we submitted to him and DWSD. However, we would be remiss if we did not point out that we still have concerns regarding the DWSD Lifeline and Water Affordability Plan, as the plan has not been made available for community review or input.
As mentioned in our original letter, We The People of Detroit (WPD) supports the overall goals of reducing arrears and guaranteeing water access for all. However, before we get behind this initiative, we ask that DWSD share the complete plan with WPD, fellow water justice advocates, and the community at large and that DWSD provides a 30-45 day period for review and public comment. Below is a copy of the letter we received in response.
Our remaining concerns are as follows:
The Lifeline and Affordability Plan has yet to be made available for community review.
We asked for a comment period before the plan is submitted for approval. Mr. Brown has indicated that DWSD will not meet this request, and they will move forward with presenting to the Board of Water Commissioner for a vote on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.
We have seen no long-term funding strategy to ensure the plan's longevity. DWSD's refusal to provide access to the Lifeline plan adds to the trepidation regarding a long-term strategy.
It is unclear how DWSD will establish the tiered water program. We know that a tiered system in conjunction with rates based on water usage is not a true water affordability plan, as use will always increase the bill amount. Without reviewing the plan, we don't know how DWSD will address this issue.
We asked that DWSD establish an Ombudsman as an internal mechanism to ensure oversight and accountability; Mr. Brown did not address this request at all.
WPD has diligently fought for water justice and access to clean, safe, affordable water for all Detroiters. As we approach the finish line, we will not let up now. Before we can provide our support, DWSD must address the concerns listed above.