Water system ownership in Oakland Township – February 14, 2017 Board meeting discussion

For years, several of the community water systems in Oakland Township have been operated and maintained by the Oakland County Water Resource Commission (WRC).  Over the years, the ownership of several of these systems (but not all) were officially transferred to the WRC by the Township Boards.  At the February 14, 2017 Oakland Township Board meeting, the WRC gave a presentation regarding the possibility of having the ownership of the systems transferred back to the Township.  No decision was made at the meeting, but there was significant discussion among the Board members and the public.

One of the reasons this transfer of ownership is being considered is that it would allow the Township to be the final decision maker regarding the location, and configuration, of the now required water storage tanks.  If the systems are OWNED and operated by the WRC, Oakland Township loses control over the decision making process.

It was pointed out that the cost for the storage facilities (and possible enhanced water treatment facilities) would be reflected in the rates paid by the property owners serviced by these systems.

Many citizens expressed concern over the possibility of having the water storage facilities located on Park Property.  Apparently some of the park properties have restrictions that prevent that from being allowed.

Several citizens expressed concern over the Township taking over the ownership of the systems because the Township would be responsible for any liability associated with the system.  It was pointed out that any financial liability associated with the system would lie with the residents who are connected to the system REGARDLESS of the whether it was owned by the WRC or the Township.

Several citizens expressed concern that if the Township owned the water systems, we would need to create a Township Department of Public Works (DPW).  The WRC indicated that they currently maintain and operate water systems that are owned by other Oakland County communities on a contractual basis.  This could be an option for our Township.

Almost 50% of Oakland Township’s residents are serviced by the water systems in question.  They are shown on the attached map.


The Township Board is in the early deliberative process on this subject.  They committed that they will put together a summary of the positive and negative aspects of the ownership options.

There will be future discussions regarding this issue in future Township Board meetings.


Richard Michalski


3 thoughts on “Water system ownership in Oakland Township – February 14, 2017 Board meeting discussion

  1. Maryann Whitman

    So…let me see if I understand this:The Township gave permission to developers to build x number of houses which are now occupied by people, and only now is anyone asking where is their water to come from and their sewage to go to, not to mention how will existing landowners (who had the foresight to provide themselves with, and pay for, these necessities) be affected?
    Is this about right???

    1. richardjmichalski Post author

      Hi Maryann,

      What you said is not correct.
      Years ago, developers were not required to put in community water supply systems. (I live in an older subdivision where we have individual private wells.) The Township later required developers to have community well systems for fire protection reasons. We encouraged the developers to ‘link’ their systems together to provide additional backup between subdivisions.

      When the developments were completed, the developers transferred ownership of the system to the Oakland County Water Resource Commission (WRC). For some of these developments, the Township officially recognized the transfer of ownership to the County through a Township Board motion. However, for some of the more recent developments, that final step never occurred. In all cases, the WRC maintained and operated the community well systems. The home owners were never impacted by these actions, and did not know the difference. Their water bills were, and are being, sent to them by the WRC.

      Some of the residents who are on the community well systems have complained about water pressure during peak use periods, as well as having iron in the water. The WRC and the Township have tried to come up with a solution that resolves those problems. When you add the issue that the MDEQ is now requiring water storage facilities for large systems, the ownership issue became a significant issue. As stated in the original post, if the WRC owns the systems, the Township loses control over what they will do to resolve the pressure, treatment and storage issues.

      If a homeowner, who is on one of the community well systems, purchased an individual water softener and/or iron filter for their homes, their voice should be factored into whether the Township (or the WRC depending upon the resolution of ownership) approves putting in a central water softening or iron removal system.

      The sewer districts are not really part of the current discussion. They are a totally separate issue from the water supply issue. The WTC does manage and maintain the sewer systems.

      Hope this helps with your understanding of the situation.

      Richard Michalski


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