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Detroit, City of ex rel. Detroit Water & Sewerage Dep't v. Michigan

Citation: 17 ELR 20174
No. No. 85-1030, 803 F.2d 1411/25 ERC 1206/(6th Cir., 10/21/1986) Rev'd

The court holds that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) may levy sewer user fees against the Wayne County Road Commission (WCRC) for a portion of the cost associated with treating stormwater runoff from WCRC's roads within Detroit that flow into the city's sewage treatment system, pursuant to the mandatory terms of the Michigan Revenue Bond Act of 1933 (Revenue Bond Act). Reversing the district court, the court rules that DWSD renders a "service" to WCRC by treating stormwater runoff from the county's roads, thereby bringing the matter within the broad terms of the Revenue Bond Act, requiring a charge for rendering a service. The court specifically rejects the district court's reliance on equitable considerations in light of the clear terms of the Revenue Bond Act. Even if equitable considerations apply, the court holds that neither the city's failure to charge itself for stormwater treatment nor its failure to charge for stormwater runoff in the past should preclude the city from charging WCRC. The district court also erred in holding that WCRC does not benefit from the treatment of stormwater within the meaning of the statute. Although WCRC did not produce the runoff, it benefits by being able to prevent dangers and damage on its roads caused by flooding and by having the runoff proceed through the city's treatment system, which must provide secondary treatment pursuant to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

[The district court opinions appear at 13 ELR 20691 and 15 ELR 20388.]

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
Robert Walter
735 Randolph, Rm. 1006, Detroit MI 48226
(313) 224-4752

Counsel for Defendant
James A. Hourihan
815 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 331-4500

Before: ENGEL and MILBURN, Circuit Judges; CONTIE,* Senior Circuit Judge.