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Keep water rates affordable

We were pleased to read reporter Steve Schulwitz’s recent story saying water rates in Northeast Michigan remain far more affordable than in many big cities.

According to a recent report in The Guardian, growing numbers of Americans living in major cities can’t afford to keep water flowing through their taps. Water bills that exceed 4% of annual income are considered unaffordable, according to The Guardian, which partnered with utilities analysts to complete its report.

In Alpena, water rates are about 1.5% of annual income for the households earning right at the median. For those at the poverty line — about one in five of every Alpena resident — water bills are about 2% of annual income.

In Rogers City and Harrisville, two other communities with municipal water, rates are even more affordable. Alpena Township, which purchases water and sewer services from the city for its residents, did not respond to Schulwitz’s request for data.

We understand that water bills are used to fund necessary maintenance and upgrades to our aging water systems.

But we also understand that having clean, reliable water coming out of our taps is a basic human need that shouldn’t be denied to someone just because they make too little.

So we urge our local government leaders to do all they can to strike the balance and keep water rates affordable.

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