Water levels in the Great Lakes continue
to rise as the rain continues to fall. According to U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers, each of the Great Lakes had higher average water levels in the month
of May in 2019 than the prior years. Each lake had water levels that were
almost a foot higher than the previous year. Additionally, as of June 21, 2019
water levels throughout the Great Lakes continued to reach above average
levels, increasing well beyond the May 2018 and May 2019 averages. Between May
2019 and June 21, 2019 water levels in Lake Superior have increased an
additional 3 inches, which is the lowest increase of the five water basins the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tracks as part of the Great Lakes. Lake Ontario
experienced the highest increase between the May 2019 average and the recorded
water levels on June 21, 2019; the increase in that time frame was 8 inches.
Lake Michigan-Huron has had the second highest increase in the last few weeks
at 7 inches.
The charts below further show that as of
May, Lake Ontario experienced the highest average increase between May of 2018
and 2019 at about a foot and a half. Lake St. Clair’s average increased the
least, but was still up 8.4 inches from the 2018 May average.
Such water levels are a result of above average rainfalls for 2019 and below average evaporation rates. For some perspective, as of June 1, 2019 there had been 1.57 inches of rain during the month, compared to 0.57 inches by the same time in 2018. Additionally, the average temperature for the month of June this year is about 68 degrees when last year the average temperature for June was about 72 degrees.
Weather models predict that cooler
temperatures and increased amounts of precipitation will become more of the
norm for Michigan, as a result of climate change. Such a long-term shift in the
state’s climate not only affects water levels in the Great Lakes, but also
farming throughout Michigan. This is a topic we will further explore in an
In 2017 Kent County had the highest birth rate per 10,000
people in the state of Michigan at 136.5. This means there were 8,684 live
births in Kent County in 2017 with a population of 636,376. Wayne County had
the second highest birth rate in the state at 131.9 live births per 10,000
people; this equates to 23,257 live births for a population of about 1.7
million. Of the 83 counties in Michigan 38 of them had live birth rates above
100 per 10,000 people in 2017. Additionally, in terms of the total number of
live births Wayne County had the highest total with Oakland County having the second
highest total at 13,184.
As the second map below shows, most of the state had between 13 and 4,660 live births in 2017. There were 12 counties where the total number of live births was below 100, with Keweenaw County having the lowest number of live births in 2017 at 13. Keweenaw County is in the Upper Peninsula, and like Keweenaw County several of the other counties in the UP had less than 100 live births in 2017. On the opposite end of the range, there were only five counties in the state that had more than 4,660 live births, those counties being Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Genesee and Kent counties.
onitoring the number of births and birth rates in an area is
important because it directly impacts policy and budgeting as it relates to
education and health care. In the U.S., and in Michigan, the number of births
are dropping. For example, in 2017 in Michigan there was a total of 111,507,
which was about 2 percent lower than what it was the previous year. As
Michigan’s population ages but birth rates decline some are concerned that
long-term this will affect the state’s economy and the talent pool.
A few weeks ago Drawing Detroit explored how many students
are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services by county. With the percentage
of students being eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services being a proxy
measure of poverty, we wanted to dig deeper into the data to see what areas of
each county had the highest and lowest percentage of services eligible for the
Those who are eligible for free or reduced lunch prices are children in households that receive benefits from the Food Assistance Program or Family Independence Program. For example, in 2018, a family of four that has an annual income of about $33,000 or less was eligible for free or reduced lunch prices.
Hamtramck Public Schools may not be the most populated
school district in Southeastern Michigan, but it has the highest percentage of
students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. According to the
Michigan Department of Education, out of the 3,300 students enrolled in
Hamtramck Public Schools, 3,115 are eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services.
This translates to 94 percent of the school population being eligible for Free
and Reduced Lunch services. In total, there are only seven school districts in
the region where 80 percent or more of the students in the district are
eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. Of those seven districts, four
are in Wayne County (Hamtramck Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools, Highland
Park Public Schools and Inkster Public Schools), two are in Macomb County
(Mount Clemens Public School District and Van Dyke Public Schools) and one is
in Oakland County (Oak Park Public Schools).
On the opposite end of the spectrum there are 14 school
districts in the region where 20 percent or less of the student population is
eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services. Northville Public Schools has the
lowest percentage of students eligible at 6.5 percent. In total, of the 7,355
students enrolled in the school district, 483 are eligible for Free and Reduced
Lunch benefits. Macomb and St. Clair counties are the only two in the region with
no school districts with less than 20 percent of students eligible for Free and
Reduced Lunch services. In St. Clair County, all the school districts have
between 20 and 60 percent of students eligible and in Macomb County, majority
of the school districts are in that same range. The exception in Macomb County is
the Mount Clemens School District and the inner-ring Detroit school districts,
such as Van Dyke Public Schools, Warren Consolidated Schools and others that
are near the City of Detroit. In the more rural school districts to the west
(in Washtenaw and Livingston counties) nearly all the school districts have
less than 40 percent of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch services.
With majority of the school districts in the region having
at least 20 percent or more of students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch
services, this highlights a need for more investment in our children, ensuring
they have the resources mentally and physically grow. As noted earlier, this
data also relates to the poverty levels in the region and further highlights
how it affects our youth.
rates throughout Southeastern Michigan vary greatly, despite the fact that most
communities in the region receive their water through the Great Lakes Water
Authority (GLWA). The GLWA was approved by Wayne,
Oakland and Macomb counties’ Board of Commissioners in October of 2014 and on
January 1, 2016 the regional authority became fully operational, ultimately as
a result of Detroit’s bankruptcy. The county boards’ approval allowed the
authority to form and for the GLWA to lease water and sewer infrastructure from
the City of Detroit for 40 years at a cost of $50 million a year. The approval
of the GLWA also meant that all Detroit Water and Sewer wholesale customers,
with the exception of the City of Detroit (127 in all, 75% of which are in the
tri-county area) are now customers of the Great Lakes Water Authority.
The Detroit/GLWA system consists of:
640 miles of large water and
Five water treatment facilities
One major sewage treatment plant
The map below shows the commodity charge rates for Fiscal Year 2020, as approved by the GLWA. In total, the GLWA represents 127 different communities, not all are shown in the map below though because some receive their services through the smaller water authorities, such as the South Oakland County Water Authority (which is a member of the GLWA and then services communities in that area). As the map shows, Bruce Township has the highest rate at $75.53 per million cubic feet (MCF). However, majority of the communities in the region that participate in the GLWA have commodity charge rates that range between $4.28 per mcf and $18.53 per mcf. The City of Ecorse has the lowest rate at $4.28 per mcf.
According to the GLWA, the charges
vary across communities for a number of reasons. Of course, communities are in
charge of their end rates but the GLWA starts with setting their commodity
prices by creating a water budget, which is capped at a 4 percent increase each
year. This budget is reflective of operating expenses, the cost of
infrastructure and other costs. The GLWA then looks at the usage patterns of
each community and where it is located in terms of its elevation and distance
from a water plant. Location matters because the more electricity that is used
to pump water to a community the more a city’s commodity charge will be. So,
for example, Bruce Township is in the northern part of Macomb County so
transportation is farther. Additionally, it does not have a storage facility
(such as a water tower) that would allow it to store water at cheaper rates and
distribute to customers. In addition to storage options, cities can also manage
their water rates as charged by the GLWA by not exceeding max volume usage
during peak hours and conserving.