Pressure is on Flint City Council members to decide on long-term water source

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FLINT (WJRT) (10/27/2017) - As the pressure to decide on a long-term water source increases, tempers flared at times when the Flint City Council met Friday to decide its next steps.

Eric Mays discusses an alternative idea for supplying Flint water.

Earlier in the afternoon, U.S. District Judge Eric Lawson ruled against the council's request for more time to study competing proposals from the Great Lakes Water Authority in Detroit and the Karegnondi Water Authority from Genesee County.

The council already missed a court-imposed deadline of Oct. 23 to ratify a long-term water source. Mayor Karen Weaver called a special council meeting on Friday because the existing contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority is scheduled to expire on Tuesday.

Ultimately, the council unanimously approved a 30-day extension with the Detroit authority while the city hammers out a long-term deal.

Councilman Scott Kincaid says he's still waiting for an evaluation to help determine the future water source.

"There's only been one evaluation and that's been done by the state, which is the original ones that caused this crisis in the city right now," he said.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Weaver continue to push for a 30-year deal with the Great Lakes Water Authority. But several council members are concerned about a potential rise in rates at some point during that deal.

They could still choose to go with the Karegnondi system, which is under construction and will serve several Genesee County municipalities outside Flint.

Councilman Eric Mays has an alternative, but says he's never been able to speak up at council meetings to explain it without getting shut down. Tempers flared Friday as he tried to make his point.

"I'd like to see us remain for health purposes with the Great Lakes on the short-term and then long-term treat our own water with a new water treatment plant that's more efficient -- worst case scenario upgrade the one we have now," he said.

The Great Lakes Water Authority still has to approve the 30-day extension approved Friday.

Lawson ruling on Friday means the council missed its deadline for making a decision, but he did not schedule another hearing or discuss next steps in his opinion. That leaves the next steps up in the air for now.

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