Michigan lawsuit claims water bill from Detroit is not adding up

Detroit is billing Michigan about $5 million for water it says was used between 2008, 2010; state files lawsuit disputing amount of water

Author: Rod Meloni, Local 4 Business Editor, @RodMeloni
Published On: Jul 06 2012 05:36:27 PM EDT   Updated On: Jul 06 2012 05:50:53 PM EDT
DETROIT -

The Michigan State Fairgrounds offices are overgrown with trees and weeds.

The property has gone unused since it closed in 2009. However, on Friday, city of Detroit Water and Sewage Department trucks were all over the Fairgrounds property.

The workers would not say why they were there but it's likely they are checking the property as a result of a lawsuit filed against the city by the state of Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget wants a judge to tell the city of Detroit to back off on its staggering water bill claim between 2008 and 2010.

More: Detroit city in crisis

The state claims the city is billing it for 36,000 gallons a month. That's a drastic increase over previous months. The city says it used nearly 3/4 of a billion gallons of water and is charging the state nearly $5 million.

The state says the city is gouging here. To get a feel for the scope of the amount of water we're talking about, the state says it would fill a pool 10 feet deep, 50 feet wide and would flow from Dearborn to the Michigan/Ohio border, 50 miles away.

Whether a leaky fire hydrant or pipe may have been spilling water into the sewer system for years or a faulty water meter is to blame, the city of Detroit says the dispute must be settled through an administrative hearing.

However, Michigan's pleadings say, "DTMB will be irreparably harmed if the hearing is permitted to move forward because the administrative hearing officer lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate this claim."

The city Water Department had no comment on the case when Local 4 contacted it on Friday.

The case goes before Judge Susan Borman on Sept. 12.

Water bill included in Corporation Counsel's lawsuit against Michigan

Detroit Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon included this water bill in her lawsuit that was aimed to dispute the city's consent agreement with the state. Her lawsuit claims the state of Michigan owes Detroit millions and cannot into such an agreement before the money is given to the city.