LANSING, Mich., Oct. 24, 2023 — Last week, the Highland Park City Council unanimously approved a tentative deal with the State of Michigan and the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). Yesterday, the GLWA board approved the agreement, ending the decade-long dispute over unpaid water bills and dismissing related ongoing lawsuits.
“Highland Park residents have shared their worries about the city’s water debt and what it would mean for their finances. Many seniors on fixed incomes and low-income families couldn’t afford to shoulder the burden of the judgment without disastrous consequences. Now, they won’t be forced to,” said state Rep. Mike McFall (D-Hazel Park), who represents Highland Park.
The agreement lifts a financial burden on the community and helps rebuild its infrastructure. Highland Park’s water infrastructure is almost 120 years old and no longer stands up to modern needs. An estimated 70% of Highland Park’s water is lost due to inadequate infrastructure. The water main and service line replacement efforts address the root of the problem to ensure everyone can access safe, affordable and reliable drinking water for years to come.
“It took true collaboration to reach this agreement. Thank you to the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration for its assistance, as well as to the leaders of Highland Park and GLWA who came together to solve this problem once and for all. I am grateful for everyone’s hard work to develop this solution that puts people first,” McFall said.
As part of the agreement, the State of Michigan has committed to fund master water and temporary sewer meters and water main and service line replacement efforts in Highland Park, release a $25 million sewer infrastructure grant and fund a $5 million sewer infrastructure grant for GLWA, and revise the administrative consent order to include settlement terms under the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.