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Report Says Water Is Unaffordable Across Michigan

(CBS Detroit) -- A new study is showing that water is unaffordable across Michigan.

A report from a team of researchers at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, along with consulting firm Safe Water Engineering, found that a lack of water and affordable sewer service is a problem across the state, especially for lower-income families.

The report says that one in 10 Detroit and Flint households spend more than a quarter of their income on water services.

Additionally, the average cost of water services increased 188% in the state, 285% in Detroit and 320% in Flint since 1980, when adjusted for inflation.

Other findings include:

  • The cost of water service, on average, has increased at a faster rate than all other essential goods and services except for health care.
  • While water bills are the smallest of all essential services for vulnerable households, the percent increase is the greatest for all essential expenses (443%) and there are no federal or state programs supporting residents in paying their water bills.
  • Between 6.59% and 10.75% of households across Michigan struggle with water bills.
  • Households with private wells and septic systems, and those in mobile homes, face unanticipated and catastrophic expenses when wells and/or septics fail, providing similar economic challenges as their counterparts on public water supplies.
  • Addressing the Michigan water infrastructure investment gap will require $19.843 billion in the next 20 years.

The report was funded by the C.S. Mott Foundation.

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