FLINT (WJRT) -
(04/25/14) - The city of Flint has officially cut its connection to the Detroit water system.
For the next several years, Flint water customers will be drinking water from the Flint River.
At about 2:30 p.m. Friday, a button was pushed, some valves began to close and a 50 year relationship between Flint and Detroit came to an end.
Flint and Detroit have been at odds for the past several years about water fees. Flint residents feel they've been gouged by Detroit.
A 30 year contract for Detroit to supply the water for Flint has expired, so the Flint officials updated its water plant to handle the needs of the city and will begin using the Flint River.
We asked Flint DPW director Howard Croft what the quality of the Flint water is now.
"Top notch. When we look at the quality of the water, the process to treat water before it goes out is much different that it was fifty years ago. We have a ozone system that wasn't available years ago," Croft said.
The DEQ has given Flint final authorization to begin water distribution from the plant.
Water rates for the new system haven't been set yet.
"The switch over is only one component of water rates. The finance department will look at all the costs it takes to run the system and then they will configure the rates from there.This should come out as part of the budget process, which we're in the middle of and sometime in the next few weeks, the rates will be set," Croft said.
If the rates go up, it's going to continue to run the citizens out of this city. We lost income and property taxes," said Wantwaz Davis, Flint City Council member.
The KWA water pipeline, which is under construction in St. Clair County, will bring Lake Huron water to the Flint area by 2016.
Meanwhile, many Genesee County water customers will continue to get their water from the Detroit system.
"Genesee County doesn't have a choice. We have to stay with Detroit. We'd prefer not to, but we don't have an alternative water source such as the Flint River Water Plant. We're stuck with Detroit 'til our plant comes online," said John O'Brien, of the Genesee County Drain office.