Michigan Municipal League Review Magazine September/October 2023
STRIVING FOR THE OPTIMAL WATER DISTRIBUTION BUSINESS MODEL
By Roberto J. Scappaticci
ROMULUS pop. 25,097
M any communities throughout the nation struggle with water loss. Any organization that distributes a product or commodity and purchases more than it sells, both public and private, would have concerns over that business model. The City of Romulus’s Mayor Robert D. McCraight had the same concerns, and the City of Romulus is no different. Community Overview Romulus is nestled in the eastern end of western Wayne County. The Detroit Metropolitan Airport (WCAA) has a roughly 12-square section footprint in the city’s 36 section boundary. The city has a rural character within an urban setting. The community is home to roughly 25,000 residents and boasts a broad array of commercial properties including two Amazon distribution centers, a Kroger’s fulfillment center, beverage distribution warehouse, and trucking giants like Central Transport among others. There are two interstate highways that bisect the city, both I-275 and I-94 have multiple exits into the city. The community is truly in a transportation hub. In addition, the city has plenty of undeveloped land and hosts prospective developers as far as China and as near as western Wayne County. Fourteen to Twenty Percent Loss Increase Pre-pandemic, the city had an average water loss calculated and it averaged 10-16 percent yearly. Post-pandemic, the city saw water loss as high as 30 percent. The first thing the administration thought was, “What is causing this high loss?” and “Did COVID-19 have anything to do with it?” After investigating, the city found several factors that contributed to such a high loss for a master metered community. We found that COVID had nothing to do with the uptick in water loss—it was just coincidental. During the course of the pandemic, the city was in the process of converting its entire metering system to complete mobile radio reading. So, we had no more walk up reads—where a vehicle drives through the city and picks up all the meter reads in one day. This allowed the city to read the entire customer database monthly and compare the consumption data to the master billing from the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). The City of Romulus, like most southeast communities, receives its water supply from the Great Lakes Water Authority.
20 THE REVIEW
SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2023
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