Flint mayor wants to keep Detroit water after lead crisis

Flint mayor wants to keep Detroit water after lead crisis”

Local, state and federal officials have cheered Mayor Karen Weaver's recommendation for keeping Flint connected to what was the Detroit water system.

Should Weaver commit to continued use of water from the Great Lakes Water Authority, it will likely be a blow to the KWA, which is partially built using Flint's emergency bonding authority under state-appointed emergency managers, an act now the subject of an investigation by state Attorney General Bill Schuette. Last year, she said the city of 100,000 residents would stick with a plan to draw from a new pipeline to Lake Huron that is in the testing phase.

"Continuing with GLWA means Flint would not have to switch water sources again", Weaver said.

But Flint didn't properly treat that water, which turned out to be corrosive and caused lead to leach into the city's drinking water supply.

Weaver had previously said the city would upgrade its plant, but estimates show that that work would cost more than the $100 million Congress has approved for the city's infrastructure needs. A previous money-saving decision to join the new Karegnondi Water Authority in 2013 set the stage for the disaster when state-appointed financial managers controlling Flint in 2014 chose to temporarily tap the Flint River while the regional pipeline to Lake Huron was being built.

While the city would still be on the hook for $7 million annual bond payments to the KWA, NBC reports that cost would be offset by credits received from the Detroit-area authority in exchange for receiving Flint's raw water rights.

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Flint returned to that source in 2015 after it was discovered that Flint River water was not treated to reduce lead pipe corrosion for 18 months.

Using Flint River water was characterized as a temporary switch until the city's pipeline connecting to the Karegnondi Water Authority was complete.

Officials hope the city council approves the proposed deal after a 30-day public comment period.

Because of the requirements of the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, the city is required to open the discussion about future water source to residents, starting with the town hall meeting.

Flint will also reportedly receive about $1.8 million in savings during the 30-year contract.

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