Pastors and religious leaders in Detroit welcome the community to learn about the high costs of storm water drainage and the financial toll it is taking on the city’s churches at Just Water: A Daylong Conference on Building Better Faith-based Approaches to Storm Water Runoff 9 to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 21, 2018 at the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church 18700 James Couzens Fwy., Detroit.
Conference goers will hear from presenters such as:
- Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of Greenfaith, will moderate an interfaith panel discussing the importance of water across the Abrahamic Faith Traditions.
- Palencia Mobley, Detroit Water and Sewer Department Deputy Director, and Storm Water Management Group Director, Lisa Wallick, will discuss current drainage fees within the city and grant opportunities to help congregations make positive environmental changes.
- Dr. Donald Carpenter, Vice President of Drummond Carpenter, a leader in environmental and water resources, technical services, engineering and applied research will join us to present on practical methods congregations can use to green their spaces. This presentation will also include 4 concept models using local congregations.
- Dr. Jalonne White-Newsome, Senior Program Officer–Environment, Kresge Foundation, will discuss their strategic grant priorities and what work they are funding to support climate resilience and urban storm water runoff.
Religious leaders say that every dollar spent on maintenance is money that could be better spent on missionary work.
“So many of the vital needs of the community – food, clothing, social service programs – heavily depend on ministry from Detroit’s churches,” said the Rev. Dee Dee M. Coleman, 66, President of the Council of Baptist Pastors, which includes 170 mostly African-American congregations. For decades, Coleman and a coalition of religious leaders have championed this cause, citing unfair practices of the city’s water department charging exorbitant water drainage fees. “Those suffering from the city’s water shutoffs depend on the church to help pay their bills. If these costly water runoff rates go into effect on land we have already bought and paid for, it will diminish our ability to help the community. If our churches close down because we cannot pay these water runoff bills, where will all the people go?”
Recently, there have been changes to the drainage charge assessed to Detroit congregations and all customers by the Detroit Water and Sewage Department (DWSD).
Churches and businesses are currently charged for drainage in two ways: 1) the amount of hard, impervious acres on their property, or 2) a flat monthly fee based on the size of their water meter. The DWSD has worked to make these changes equitable and affordable and lower the rates they currently charge.
In 2017, the Board of Water Commissioners instituted a drainage rate of $661 per impervious acre. A lower rate is anticipated in July 2018. By the year 2023, all customers will pay the same rate based on their property’s impervious acreage. Now it is our turn to take steps to minimize these costs and to find more environmentally responsible solutions.
Attendees of Just Water will receive information on steps from the DWSD to help minimize the costs of water drainage including transition credits, Green Stormwater Infrastructure credits, and up to $5 million per year in Capital partnership (matching funds); resources for participants that will help educate, inspire and mobilize their faith community on the relationship between water, faith and other local water issues as well as other opportunities to build a relational foundation for an ongoing, Detroit-based multi-faith hub that will empower faith communities to address environmental stewardship and justice issues.
The cost to attend the conference is $25 which includes breakfast and lunch. Register at http://www.tinyurl.com/justwaterdetroit For questions, please contact Meredith Skowronski at Christ Cranbrook Church at firstname.lastname@example.org