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The Detroit Water & Sewerage Department (DWSD) has undertaken an aggressive approach to collect on past due commercial accounts, contributing to a collection rate that has increased to nearly 90 percent from 85 percent on January 1. The outcome is that significantly less bad debt will be transferred to rate payers next year.

Under a pilot program with law firm, Kilpatrick & Associates, DWSD has pursued collections on 40 commercial accounts that are delinquent, an aggregate past due amount of more than $520,000. Several accounts are apartment buildings where the owner has not paid the bill. In these instances, DWSD will not shut-off the buildings since tenants are not responsible for the water bill. The law firm is pursuing collections on the accounts by filing civil action and negotiating on behalf of DWSD to secure payment arrangements. This month, DWSD will give the law firm an additional 220 delinquent commercial accounts which has an aggregate past due amount of $1.7 million.

DWSD assigned dedicated staff to manage 1,400 commercial accounts with past due bills. In the past 30 days alone, staff has placed 400 commercial accounts into payment plans. DWSD is making contact with the 1,000 remaining delinquent commercial customers to offer payment plans. Separately, DWSD is negotiating with several large commercial customers, such as Russell Industrial Center, Vargo Golf and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, which have past due accounts.

DWSD uses shut-off as the last tool in the toolbox to address past due water and sewer bills.Only illegal commercial and residential water hook-ups have been shut-off during the winter. DWSD will pursue commercial shut-offs this month on accounts that are past due and have not entered into payment plans. No residential customers have been shut-off since November unless they are illegal hook-ups.

In the past 90 days, DWSD has changed its business practices to improve customer service and utilize industry standards for public utilities. Today, 43,900 commercial and residential accounts are in payment plans. Of those, close to 39,500 residential customers are in payment arrangements, ensuring continued water service. As a result, DWSD has improved its collection rate from 85% to nearly 90%. Uncollectable accounts translate to bad debt which impacts water and sewer rates for the following year.

About The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) serves over 200,000 Detroit residential and commercial customers.  DWSD’s water network consists of more than 2,700 miles of transmission and distribution mains and nearly 3,000 miles of sewer collection piping.

To learn more about the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department or to request water services, make payments, or report water problems, call Customer Care at 313.267.8000 or visit:  http://www.detroitmi.gov/dwsd.

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