Flint is set to get water from Karegnondi Water Authority
Flint will get water from the Karegnondi Water Authority after that system is ready, the mayor said Tuesday, even though she had threatened to break an agreement to join the system in the aftermath of the Michigan city’s lead-tainted water crisis.
Mayor Karen Weaver said Flint’s contract with the water authority would be difficult to break. She earlier said she wouldn’t rule out staying with Detroit’s regional water system, regardless of the agreement with Karegnondi. Flint’s supply was switched from Detroit water to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure in 2014, but the water was not properly treated and that resulted in the corrosion of lead pipes.
Weaver said the city has negotiated with state and Genesee County officials about how to pay for a 3-mile-long pipeline that’s needed as part of the project. The county will pay for pre-construction engineering, and the state will share the cost of the connection with the city.
There also have been discussions about giving Flint more representation on the board that governs the Karegnondi Water Authority, Weaver said.
“I’m not excited about this, but I think working toward these changes gives us greater influence than what we had before, and it will allow us to move forward knowing that we have people at the table making decisions for Flint who are truly invested in the city and who want what’s best for the citizens of Flint,” she said.
Gov. Rick Snyder, who was on hand for the announcement at City Hall, said the 3-mile pipeline likely will cost about $7 million and that the state will provide about $4.2 million of the cost through grants. He said he appreciates the collaboration that aims to provide a “good, safe water supply for the city of Flint.”
Later Tuesday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette scheduled a Wednesday news conference to announce unspecified civil charges related to the Flint disaster. In April, his office criminally charged two state Department of Environmental Quality employees and a Flint water employee.
The switch to Flint River water was done as a cost-saving measure in anticipation of eventually going with Karegnondi when it starts taking water from Lake Huron. Flint switched back to Detroit water temporarily last fall after the problems with lead became apparent.
Just when Flint will start receiving water from Karegnondi is uncertain. A water authority spokesman says Genesee County will be ready to draw water after its treatment plant finishes construction in summer 2017, but Flint will not be able to connect until its treatment plant meets state and federal standards.