The Kapszukiewicz administration broke out
its uniform water supply agreement last week after a long,
grueling process. The agreement will now be distributed to
the councils of several suburban communities for their
approval. It is significant that the low-income assistance
and lead line replacement programs were missing in the
present contract, unlike in previous iterations.
What explains the absence of these critical
elements which we advocated in order to prevent the mass
shutoffs experienced in Detroit and lead emergencies such as
occurred in Flint and even today in Newark, all of which
disproportionately affected low income persons and people of
Drinking from Separate Fountains:
The process, I’m told, first requires that
the number of suburban signees be determined in order to fix
the “wholesale” water rate. Once the wholesale rates have
been determined, then the “retail” rates (that residents of
Toledo and Lucas County pay), can be fixed. Only then, is it
possible to determine how much (if any) funding is available
for the affordability and lead replacement programs.
Cake or Crumbs?
Someone explained to me, “It’s like doing a
cake, you’ve got to bake the cake before you put the
frosting on. You get a cake with no frosting if there’s only
seven members in the agreement instead of nine.”
Icing is not what I would call what
low-income people receive. It’s more like crumbs if they get
anything at all.
When Toledo went with the TAWA approach it
retained ownership of the water plant and control of rate
setting authority. What it gave up was a ton of revenue to
pay for costly plant maintenance and implementation of
affordability programs. In addition, water rates in Toledo
will necessarily be much higher because there are fewer
people to share the burden than with the rejected TAWA
How much for lead replacement and water
affordability to assist those most vulnerable?
Supposed these costs are “baked in” to estimated retail
Yet, it is City Council that will ultimately determine
rates. And, it’s very likely that body will be forced to
jack Toledo water bills up sky high because of a smaller
buying pool. In essence, then, poor people will be paying
for their own affordability program and lead line
There is a realistic possibility that the cost of lead line
replacement and an adequate low-income assistance program
will be much greater than the revenues collected for the
water affordability pool.
The result is crumbs for low income people. And, perhaps it
explains the reason the City did not initially want to
reference the affordability plan in the current contract.
Nevertheless, although flawed, the current contract is the
best option available to us at this time.
So, it's up to City Council, when they vote September 3, to
ensure that the commitment to those most vulnerable is
included in the proposed uniform water contract. Then
council should make certain that there is adequate funding
for affordability plans and lead line replacement without
burdening those who need them most.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at