The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD), one of the largest water and sewer utilities in the United States, has a rich history as a public utility dating back to 1836.
In 1852, the City of Detroit's Common Council formed a Board of Trustees to operate the water system and provide it with hands-on management. The following year, the state legislature transformed the Board of Trustees in the Board of Water Commissioners (BOWC) - still DWSD's governing body today. Known for decades as the Department of Water Supply (DWS), the department officially became the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department in 1973 with the adoption of Detroit's current City Charter.
DWSD, with more than 2,000 employees, is a branch of the City of Detroit government, guided by seven Water Commissioners whose members are appointed by the Mayor. Four commissioners - City Charter requirements - represent Detroit residents. The three other commissioners represent suburban wholesale customers with appointees from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
Today, DWSD provides water service to almost one million people in Detroit and three million people in 126 neighboring Southeastern Michigan communities throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb St. Clair, Lapeer, Genesee, Washtenaw and Monroe counties.
By Michigan statute, DWSD is a not-for-profit entity. Water and sewer rates are based on cost of service only and the Department receives no subsidies from property taxes.
The Department is organized into seven operating groups: Asset Maintenance, Engineering Services, Financial Services, Information Technology and Systems Integration and Operations, Public Affairs, Wastewater Operations and Water Supply Operations.