Water Equity Clearinghouse

Great Lakes Water Authority

Southeast Michigan

The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) is a wholesale water and sewer services provider in the Southeast Michigan region. GLWA is an effort on the parts of the City of Detroit, the counties of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne, and the State of Michigan to push forward a one water management approach. The GLWA operates five water treatment plants that draw water from Lake Huron and the Detroit River; sources that the authority strives to protect and conserve. For example, in the past two decades, GLWA has made remarkable progress in preventing combined sewer overflows (CSOs) from reaching water sources and waterways.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Serving 3.9 million people, the GLWA recognizes that suburban water and sewer customers should have a powerful voice in the management and direction of one of largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation. To reach these customers, GLWA runs a number of customer outreach programs to understand community concerns and questions.

In 2016, GLWA launched the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP), which allocates .5 percent of base operating revenues to helping the program meet assistance demands in the 127 community service area. In the first year of the program, nearly four million dollars were committed to billing and arrearage assistance, home audits, and plumbing repairs for 4,106 households. In addition, 1,890 water shutoffs were avoided, demonstrating GLWA’s commitment to serving its customers equitably. WRAP has a 90 percent retention rate, a testament to the impactful changes that GLWA is making to its rate structures and payment systems.

GLWA participates in vendor outreach to spread procurement opportunities throughout the region. Currently, GLWA has over 200 contracts valued at approximately two billion dollars and has three specific procurement teams to manage the bidding and contracting process.

Geographic Scale:
Type of Organization:
Pillar 1
Pillar 2
Vulnerable Populations Served:
Lower-income Communities
Approach to Advancing Water Equity:
Direct Service