Review finds savings from water reservoir

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 19, 2012

A review of the city’s contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) finds that the 10 Mile Water Reservoir has saved the city about $370,000 in charges by purchasing water at off-peak times.

Department of Public Works Director Bryan Babcock said the reservoir has helped regulate pressure for the city’s aging pipes, led to fewer water main breaks and helped the city pay less for water from DWSD.

Because it is filling the reservoir in the evening, the city did have a slightly higher daily-flow rate than before, but the savings obtained from using less water during peak usage times more than made up for that expense.

“You can take as much water from them as you want” in the evening and at night, Babcock explained Dec. 17. “It’s a significant savings … so it’s working.

“Now, with this new contract reopener, we’re able to start capturing those savings.”

Babcock said the contract between the city and DWSD began in 2008 and will be reviewed again in five years.

One of the changes made during this review was to remove mention of Detroit City Council having to approve portions of the contract, since a board of water commissioners now oversees DWSD. In addition, the revisions discuss “some flow rate exceedances, remedies for those and a schedule to resolve them,” Babcock said.

Even with the higher daily-flow rate, Babcock said St. Clair Shores still isn’t exceeding the maximum flow rate allowed in the contract, which would trigger penalties.

“We worked very hard at picking the numbers we’ve chosen,” he said.

But residents will still see water rates continuing to increase because, although people are using less water, DWSD has fixed costs that still need to be paid for, regardless of how much water is used.

And, City Councilman Chris Vitale said, St. Clair Shores doesn’t subsidize the cost of water in its other taxes, like some communities do.

“In other communities, your water, some of the sting is taken out of it because you’re paying a higher millage rate,” he said. “It’s actually a more honest calculation because I’m not paying a water rate for a family of eight as part of my taxes.”