Patterson remains firm on DWSD in State of the County address

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson remained resolute on the issues surrounding the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department in his 20th State of the County speech.

“I have two of my top negotiators… representing the interests of Oakland County taxpayers at the table,” Patterson said Wednesday evening at the Centerpoint Marriot in Pontiac. “My directive to them from the beginning was incredibly simple given the complexity of the challenge. I laid down one rule: ‘Remember, no deal is better than a bad deal.’”

Patterson also said that he has instructed Chief Deputy County Executive Gerald Poisson and Deputy County Executive Robert Daddow to explore possible alternatives to the DWSD system.

“There are alternatives and we will be examining them. But unfortunately there is no overnight cure,” Patterson said.

The possible alternatives outlined by Patterson in his speech include:

  • New or expanded package treatment facilities that Oakland County could construct in different parts of the county to handle sewage issues
  • Drilling more wells for drinking water
  • Instead of sending billions to help DWSD come into compliance with EPA standards, using those billions to build a separate water and sewer authority

No matter what the outcome with DWSD, Patterson warned rates will go up as much as double.

“It’s nearly $6 billion debt and its hundreds of millions of dollars or perhaps even in the billions in deferred maintenance dwarfs the challenges the region faced with the Cobo Hall and the DIA issues,” Patterson said. “The system is suffering from decades of neglect and will require billions in maintenance and EPA-conforming upgrades.”

Patterson acknowledged Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash for his role in the DWSD negotiations.

“He has been a true partner with my administration in the ongoing negotiations with DWSD. Though we come from opposite political parties, Jim’s support for protecting our ratepayers has been unwavering,” Patterson said.

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