Flint Mayor wants city to stay with GLWA as primary water source

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FLINT (WJRT) - (04/18/17) - Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has announced that her recommendation for the City of Flint is to stay with the Great Lakes Water Authority.

Weaver says she does not want to subject residents to another switch in water sources and that this is the cheapest option after exploring a dozen options over the last six months.

The move would stabilize current water rates in Flint for residents according to the city's CFO Dave Sabuda. He says this plan avoids a major rate hike if they were to go with the KWA as planned.

Water customers outside of the city who will get their water from the KWA in October would also see their water rates stay the same. Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright says some might even see a decrease.

Staying with the Great Lakes Water Authority will eliminate the $7 million payment per year to be part of the KWA. Also, this plan means that the City of Flint will get back the 72 inch transmission line that was originally sold to Genesee County.

At this point, staying on Detroit water is a recommendation - this isn't set in stone yet.

The public will have 30 days to voice their opinion on the proposal, then city council, the state oversight board and the KWA board will vote on an official contract.

If everyone agrees. this is what will happen:

The city will stay on the Great Lakes Water Authority from now into the future - the exact contract length is unknown at this point.

The $7 million Flint was supposed to pay to be part of KWA pipeline will now be covered by the Great Lakes Water Authority in exchange for the city's raw water rights to KWA pumped water.

Eventually, Flint's water plant would be phased out of operation - all water coming to residents taps would be treated by The Great Lakes Water Authority.

We asked if residents in the city will see any decrease in their very high water bills if the recommendation to stay on Detroit is eventually approved. The answer given was for now, this move avoids a major increase in rates if the city was to connect to the KWA.

The city is doing a water rate study to see what will happen to rates in the future.

The Great Lakes Water Authority has released the following statement:

"Today, the city of Flint announced its intention to remain with the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) for its treated drinking water under a 30-year water supply model contract. Together, in collaboration with the state of Michigan, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner’s Office (GCDC) and the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA), Flint residents can be assured that they will continue to receive water of unquestionable quality, at a significant cost savings.

As a result of this cooperative agreement, GLWA is partnering with the KWA and the GCDC for back-up service for the city of Flint, as well as for customers of the GCDC. Through this partnership, redundancy will also be created for all of GLWA’s member communities west of our Imlay City Pump Station through the leveraging of already made public investments – which is an ongoing goal of GLWA throughout its system. This will address a long-standing redundancy issue for our customer communities in this region, and save the Authority approximately $600 million in comparison to prior estimates. This redundancy means that these member communities will be more secure in their water service should an emergency or issue with the GLWA system arise.

GLWA will also provide a credit to the city of Flint in like amount to debt paid for KWA bonds (approximately $7 million annually), as long as the city keeps current on its debt service payments. As a result, GLWA will receive the rights to the raw water that Flint has through the KWA. Flint will also receive approximately $1.8 million in savings for the 30-year model contract, as compared to the non-contracted charges they otherwise would have incurred. In addition, Flint anticipates it will be able to redirect its priority funding previously slated for water treatment plant improvements to the city’s water distribution system – including Mayor Weaver’s “Fast Start” initiative to replace all of the lead service lines in Flint.

Flint residents will also be able to participate in GLWA’s Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP), Michigan’s first-ever sustainable water assistance program. Most importantly, however, Flint residents will receive stability through a long-term agreement with GLWA for treated drinking water from a trusted source.

GLWA is happy to continue stabilizing the water supply in the city of Flint and provide affordable, quality water to its citizens well into the future. The Authority was formed through regional collaboration, serving nearly 40 percent of Michigan’s population, and today’s announcement is an example of how that continuing collaboration has worked to benefit all parties involved while maintaining economies of scale for each participant."

--Sue McCormick, CEO, GLWA

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