Michigan communities sue state over cost of strict lead rules for drinking water

Average cost of water bill could rise

DETROIT – Michigan put in place one of the strictest drinking water regulations in the country, and that decision was billed as a major step forward, but now the question looms -- who's going to pay for it?

Under the new rules lead service lines to homes and buildings are required to be replaced by 2040. The average cost is estimated to be $5,000 per home.

Detroit's water department estimates the cost for a statewide replacement would be $2.5 billion. That would mean the average $75 a month water bill would rise between 10 and 30 percent a month for the next 30 years.

The potential water bill hike prompted Water Department director Gary Brown and other area water providers to sue the state.

Detroit's water department is already replacing lead lines across the city, some 120,000 of them.

Brown said the governor's desire to create the toughest lead line and testing rules in the nation to prevent another Flint water crisis is a good idea, but it can't go on as an unfunded mandate.

"We know we're getting a new administration coming in office in January and we are ready and wiling right now to begin negotiating," Brown said.

So far the Department of Environmental Quality isn't commenting. It told Local 4 it's reading the legal documents.

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