A regional water authority is a “viable solution” to Detroit’s bankruptcy problems, the Southeastern Oakland County Water Authority said in a court filing.
That means that a plan to spin off the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, a key component of Detroit’s debt-reduction plan, may not be dead, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Both the authority and another group representing western Wayne County municipalities – who collectively represent nearly 21 percent of Detroit’s water sales – want to be involved in confidential mediation talks currently taking place among Detroit and Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties, according to a filing in federal bankruptcy court.
SOCWA represents the jurisdictions of Berkley, Beverly HIlls, Bingham Farms, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak, Southfield and Southfield Township.
The Western Townships Utilities Authority is made up of representatives from Canton Township, Northville Township and Plymouth Township, as well as several other major Detroit water customers, including the cities of Troy and Livonia.
In the court filing, SOCWA cited its many years of experience in managing a water authority and said it wants to be part of a regional water authority – a solution that appeared dead after representatives of Oakland and Macomb counties said Detroit’s emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, wasn’t negotiating in good faith.
The two counties balked at a proposal by Orr that would have required a new regional authority to pay Detroit $47 million a year for 40 years to use the city’s water and sewer facilities, but Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano has been supportive of the deal,U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhoades ordered mediation last month to resolve the dispute.