Detroit Water and Sewerage Department considering privatization

Cuts could eleminate 81 percent of jobs

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Dozens of Detroit residents spoke out in opposition of proposed restructuring within the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

A public hearing was held today to get the public's input on a $48 million no-bid contract for consulting services.

Council president pro-tem Gary Brown says the issue at hand is making the water department more efficient and lowering rates, but those who spoke during today's public hearing believe this is another example of mismanagement within the city of Detroit.

None of the Detroiters who spoke at Tuesday's public hearing were in favor of the privatization of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, something that the department's board of directors is in favor of.

The move would save the department millions of dollars a year.

Residents fear that savings will come at the cost of quality and jobs, a trade-off those in attendance were not willing to make. Arguments ranged from the allegations that EMA Inc. lowers quality of water and services to the need to create jobs and not eliminate them - to the argument that the department can fix itself.

Aging infrastructure and operating increasing costs cause rates to increase.

The Detroit Board of Water Commissioners believes privatization is the best way to improve both service and quality.

One hour had been set aside for public comment prior to the regularly scheduled 10 a.m. council meeting.

That was another sore spot with some attendees who felt the meetings took place too early in the day to allow most of the public to attend.

Some also felt the hour set aside for comment was not sufficient. Judging by the number of people in attendance, and those unable to speak, that assessment seems accurate. Another public hearing has been scheduled for November 20, 2012 at 5 p.m.

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