Whitmer extends water reconnection program for thousands of residents

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended a program reconnecting residents who had water shut off through...
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended a program reconnecting residents who had water shut off through the end of this year with a $25 million funding boost.(WJRT)
Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 2:05 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Thousands of Michigan families will keep access to water after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended her program to avoid shut-offs through the end of the year.

She issued an order in March that requires municipal water systems to reconnect every residence that had service shut off if the residents request, regardless of whether their account still has an outstanding balance. The program was designed to make sure everyone can wash their hands to prevent coronavirus from spreading.

Nearly 2,500 residences had water service restored with the program, including more than 1,200 in Detroit.

Whitmer extended the program through Dec. 31 with an order signed Wednesday. It also is expanding with a $25 million appropriation of state tax dollars to help pay off past due water bills and late fees.

“From day one, my administration has been focused on building a stronger Michigan by investing in people, their families, their pocketbooks and the infrastructure they rely on,” Whitmer said. “As Michigan families grapple with the impacts of COVID-19 on public health and our economy, our administration is taking proactive steps to ensure that no one has to worry about having access to clean drinking water or losing power during this unprecedented crisis.”

The $25 million program allows the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse water utilities statewide for eligible customers’ past due bills. In exchange, water providers must offer a rebate on the past due balances and waive outstanding late fees.

Some of the $25 million will go toward offering a 25% rebate on some eligible water customers’ bills while funding lasts.

“For the health and safety of all, we fully understand the importance of having access to water in your home,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “We commend Gov. Whitmer and we are fully supportive of these efforts. The City of Flint will continue to be a partner working for a healthy recovery in the State of Michigan.” 

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