FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2019
Ashleigh Chatel / O: 313-324-7867/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle Zdrodowski / O: 313-224-4739 / email@example.com
GLWA TRANSFERS MORE THAN $1.2 MILLION IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING TO DETROIT AND FLINT
FOR BILL PAYMENT AND CONSERVATION ASSISTANCE
Program reaches 73 percent community participation in first three years
DETROIT— The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) Board of Directors recently approved the transfer of more than $1.2 million in additional WRAP (Water Residential Assistance Program) funding to the city of Detroit, as well as the city of Flint.
The transferred funding is from the uncommitted 2018 bill assistance funds from GLWA’s three major county partners: Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. Of the $1.2 million being transferred, $794,400 will be directed to the city of Detroit and $427,755 to the city of Flint for conservation and direct assistance.
Since its inception in March 2016, 73 percent of GLWA member communities have opted-in to WRAP, a first-of-its-kind program in Michigan and one of few sustainable assistance plans in the country. More than 15,000 households across GLWA’s service area are enrolled in WRAP, with Detroit and Flint residents making up 71 percent of all enrollments.
“The decision by the GLWA Board of Directors to transfer uncommitted WRAP funding to Detroit and Flint reinforces our strategic commitment to water affordability,” said Sue F. McCormick, Chief Executive Officer of GLWA. “We are proud to offer our member partner communities this program, as it not only provides financial support, but it also puts enrolled households on a path toward self-sufficiency through the conservation education and assistance provided.”
WRAP, which is administered by Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (Wayne Metro), provides qualifying customers at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty threshold with help in paying current and past-due water bills. Eligible customers receive a $25 monthly credit toward current water bills with any arrears suspended for 12-24 months.
In 2018, the Board updated the program to assist income-qualifying households with lead removal. WRAP now includes the replacement of kitchen and bathroom faucets predating the 1986 lead-free plumbing code change. This removed the pre-condition that eligible households were required to have over 120 percent average annual usage. Now anyone participating in WRAP is eligible to have these lead faucets replaced by the program, ensuring safe and quality water.
A change to the program for the 2020 Fiscal Year will allow customers to receive the bill credit of up to $350 toward any arrearages they might have in the first month of their enrollment – previously, customers would have had to remain current on their payments for six months.
“GLWA remains committed to WRAP and to ensuring that it is structured in a way that assists our member communities,” said Brian Baker, Board Chair and representative for Macomb County. “The transfer of unused funds and the programmatic changes we have instituted are evidence of this commitment. I encourage those member communities that have not taken advantage of the program to consider enrolling.”
From March 2016 to April 2019, $16.8 million in total funding has been committed to communities throughout southeast Michigan. To date:
- In 2018, nearly 700 homes with high water usage received a home water audit, with 945 repairs performed (53 percent of homes received professional plumbing repairs after their audit);
- On average, participating households have been able to save approximately $420 on their water bills for an annual savings of more than $293,000.
For Fiscal Year 2020, GLWA’s Board of Directors has identified its WRAP budget allocation as $5 million, which represents a half percent of all GLWA revenue.
The GLWA Board also approved the following changes to the program:
- Qualified senior citizens and the disabled who have successfully completed the 24-month program are now eligible to continue receiving WRAP’s $25 per month bill assistance credit. They must remain current on their bills and reapply each year;
- Renters are now eligible to receive a Water Smart water saving materials kit that includes a cold water catcher, shower timer, dye tablets to check toilets for leaks, toilet flapper, toilet tank bank, faucet aerators, high efficiency shower head, and Teflon tape to seal pipe threads when installing aerators.
- Wayne Metro is now providing non-traditional hours and telephonic appointments to help improve access to services.
Eligible residents may apply for WRAP by calling 313-386-9727 or learn more at waynemetro.org/wrap.
About the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA)
The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) is the provider of choice for water and wastewater services to 127 municipalities in eight southeast Michigan counties. With the Great Lakes as source water, the GLWA is uniquely positioned to provide its customers water of unquestionable quality. GLWA has capacity to extend its service to other southeast Michigan communities. The authority offers a Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP) to assist low-income residential customers throughout the system. The GLWA board includes one representative each from Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties as well as two representatives from the City of Detroit, and one appointed by the governor of Michigan to represent customer communities outside the tri-county area.