History of SOCWA

The post World War II residential development in Southeastern Oakland County resulted in additional water customers and increased demands on the individual municipal water systems.

The City of Detroit policy, prior to 1959, was to provide water to outside customers at its corporate limits only. Therefore, most of the communities operating a water system that did not have corporate limits contiguous to the Detroit corporate limits were on well supplies.

In 1927, the City of Royal Oak built the North Woodward Avenue Water System. The System was designed to supply Detroit water to Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, the Detroit Zoo and the Rackham Golf Club. The System consisted of the following:
  • Pump station located at Livernois and Eight Mile Road
  • 1.5 MMG elevated tank at Ten Mile Road and Woodward Avenue
  • 48-inch water main from pump station to elevated tank
The System was also supplied by Royal Oak wells.

By 1948, most of the Southeastern Oakland County communities not obtaining their entire water supply from Detroit were experiencing water shortages during the summer months. In fact, some of the Detroit suburban customers were required to impose lawn sprinkling restrictions.

The Southeastern Oakland County municipal administrators realized that water must be obtained from a new or an additional source. Lake Huron and Detroit were both given consideration and it was determined that Detroit would be the most practical approach. The administrators also realized that one water system to pump, transport and store would be the most economical to construct and operate.

As the result of joint effort, Act Number 196 of the Michigan Public Acts of 1952 was adopted and approved by the Governor in April 1952. The Act permits two or more cities, villages and townships to incorporate to acquire, own and operate a water system. The Act also provides for the corporation to possess all the powers necessary to carry out the purposes of its incorporation. The Corporation may condemn either within or without its corporate limits. The corporation may not tax, must operate from revenue and may issue self-liquidating revenue bonds.

Articles of Incorporation
The Articles of Incorporation drafted in accordance with Act Number 196 and creating the Authority were approved by the member municipalities in 1952 and 1953. The Authority became an official entity in 1953 and is a Michigan Public Corporation.

The Authority is governed by an eleven member Board of Trustees, one member representing each constituent municipality. Member voting power is not equal. The number of votes is based on individual member municipality water volume purchased from the Authority.

The original Authority member municipalities consisted of Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Southfield Township. Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Lathrup Village and Southfield were within the territory of Southfield Township at the time of Authority incorporation. They have since incorporated and are now member municipalities.

Southfield Township no longer operates a water system, but is still a member municipality. Franklin Village was also within the territory of Southfield Township and may become an Authority member when it constructs and operates a water system.

The Authority also serves the Detroit Zoo and the Rackham Golf Club.

The area served by the Authority is 56 square miles and the population is 210,386. There are some individual wells in service in Southfield, Beverly Hills and Bingham Farms.

The Authority administration performs a double function and also operates SOCRRA. Not all of the Water Authority members belong to SOCRRA. Likewise, not all SOCRRA members belong to the Water Authority.

The Authority purchased the North Woodward Avenue System from Royal Oak in 1955. In 1957, the pump station building was remodeled. New pumps were installed and piping was changed to conform to Authority requirements.

The Authority has constructed 7 pump stations to pump from Detroit, out of storage, and to repump to higher terrain. Total number of pumps is 26 with discharge ranging from 2,850 to 14,000 gallons per minute. Five ground storage reservoirs with a total capacity of 29.5 million gallons have been constructed.

The Authority now has 3 elevated tanks which total 3.0 million gallons capacity. A fourth one was acquired with the North Woodward Avenue System and was in service until the tank site was sold in 1985 to the Michigan Department of Transportation for use as part of the I-696 freeway project.

The Authority transports and distributes water through 50.5 miles of main with diameters from 16-inch to 48-inch.

The system also includes 3 meter stations and 47 meter vaults.

For more information, call or write:
SOCWA, 3910 W. Webster Road, Royal Oak, MI 48073 - Office Hours - 7-4 Monday-Friday
Telephone: (248) 288-5150; Fax: (248) 435-0310