Detroit Agrees to Pay $11 M in Water Damage Claims to 800 Residents

November 9, 2016

Months after two severe storms flooded basements on Detroit’s east side, the Michigan city’s water department has decided to pay the claims of all residents who aren’t suing it.

Hundreds of homes were damaged during the July 8 storm, which resulted in many basements flooded with smelly, brown water, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Detroit Water and Sewerage Department director Gary Brown said the department, which charges residents for water, plans to settle with 800 people who filed claims and haven’t sued. They will begin with the 17 whose furnaces and hot water tanks were rendered inoperable. The department expects to spend about $11 million.

Brown said the department will settle all the claims before January, no matter whose fault it is. He said the department isn’t waiting for the disposition of ongoing investigations being conducted by the Great Lakes Water Authority, which operates the system and the water department.

“We didn’t wait to see whose responsibility it was (between Great Lakes and DWSD),” he said.

The decision to pay the claims is part of the department’s efforts to gain a better reputation after water shutoffs made international headlines.

The department has also instituted a program through the Great Lakes Water Authority to help customers who are behind on their water bills, but are consistent with payments over periods of time, said Brown.

According to Brown, he hired two contractors to help clean, sanitize and throw things away. He said in some instances they had to build stairways in order to get into some of the basements, and cleaned vacant property that the Detroit land bank owned, to ensure no smells would linger near occupied homes.

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