June 30 2022
Water Rate Increase as Ferndale Plans for Water Infrastructure Needs
On July 1, 2022, the City of Ferndale’s 2022-23 water rate increase will go into effect. The increase was approved by City Council on April 25, 2022, as part of the annual budget process.
Residential and commercial water customers will see an increase from $11.68 to $12.83 per unit—a total of $1.15 per unit. The average Ferndale household uses about 10 units per three-month billing cycle.
The City’s commitment to preserving safe access to water for all, which includes the policy of never shutting off water for nonpayment, remains unchanged.
The City maintains its policy of never shutting off water for nonpayment; access to clean, safe water is a human right
WHY THE INCREASE?
While increases are never welcome, the reason for it is essential: to maintain and make planned improvements to the City’s water system.
It’s key to note that the water system is self-sustaining. We’ve all heard the jokes and criticisms about cities “getting rich” by raising rates, but it’s simply not the case. The City doesn’t make money from water or utility billing, nor can it use funding from other sources, such as the General Fund, to pay for water infrastructure.
This means that improvements to the water system must be paid for by water customers. And these kinds of improvements are a necessity: water infrastructure maintenance is essential to all municipal water systems, and even more critical in older infrastructure like ours and those of our neighboring cities. It is your right as a Ferndale citizen to have access to clean water; it’s our duty as a municipal water provider to deliver it safely. That’s where planned maintenance comes in.
In addition to planned updates, the City is undergoing a multi-year, $10 million lead service line replacement program. The water Ferndale delivers to customers is lead-free; however, lead can get into water if it passes through a lead service line. The surest way to protect against lead in water is to get the lead out altogether—and that’s exactly what we’re doing, updating infrastructure for the estimated 30% of homes and properties that contain full or partial lead service lines.
HOW DID THE CITY DECIDE ON THE NEW RATE?
The City worked with Plante Moran, a leading financial consultancy firm, to undergo a water rate study. Their results showed that rates have not kept up with increasing costs and capital needs, and the City was advised to raise costs to provide necessary system improvements.
WHAT IMPROVEMENTS WILL THE CITY BE MAKING?
- $6.3 million in sewer system improvements through 2027 including sewer repairs, easement cleaning, and stormwater infrastructure updates.
- $7.3 million in water system updates through 2027, including significant water main improvements to help strengthen mains and reduce the likelihood of breaks.
- $10 million in State-mandated lead service line replacements.
The City is investing $280,000 into stormwater infrastructure to help meet the demands of intensifying weather due to climate change, as well as making updates to strengthen the water main system and reduce the number of main breaks
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M FACING FINANCIAL HARDSHIP AND STRUGGLING TO PAY MY WATER BILL?
There are programs available through the State of Michigan and Oakland County to assist those experiencing challenges.
- Michigan’s Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) is a temporary emergency program to help low-income households pay overdue water and wastewater bills. To be eligible, you must be a residential account holder, be in arrears, and be under 150% Federal Poverty Level and/or actively receiving various other federal assistance.
- The Great Lakes Water Authority, of which Ferndale is a member community, provides the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP), a two-year program offering funding to eligible, low-income homeowners to assist with water bills, water conservation, and self-sufficiency initiatives. For more information, contact 248-983-5656.
To learn more about these programs, or to discuss your account in greater detail, please contact the City’s Water Billing Specialist at 248-546-2374 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information, including resources about how to access and read your digital water account, how to read your bill, and more, visit www.ferndalemi.gov/resources/water.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact the City’s Water Billing Specialist at 248-546-2374 or by email at email@example.com.