County approves pipeline, Flint keeps Detroit water for now

Posted at 3:30 PM, Mar 16, 2017

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s Genesee County has approved a plan that will allow it to begin drawing and treating water from a new pipeline to Lake Huron while the city of Flint continues buying pre-treated water from Detroit’s system.

A county board on Wednesday approved building a 7-mile connector to the new Karegnondi Water Authority this year, the Flint Journal reported.

Officials in Flint, still grappling with the fallout from a lead-tainted water crisis that damaged water transmission lines, have estimated the city will not be ready to treat raw water itself before 2019.

The connector would make it possible for Flint to continue buying pre-treated water from the Detroit-based Great Lakes Water Authority until that time, while the county begins treating raw Lake Huron water this year.

Construction on the connector is expected to begin in May and cost at least $12 million. County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said the county would have to otherwise spend more than $60 million to use the Great Lakes Water Authority water while waiting for Flint to determine a permanent water source.

The money the county has paid to the water authority was supposed to be used to pay down debt, Wright said.

“This puts us back on track to pay our bond debt,” he said, and gives Flint the time it needs to decide on its short- and long-term water supply.

Meanwhile, Flint officials have been developing plans to replace lead service lines and increase the number of water department employees.

The Flint water crisis came after a failed 17-month attempt to use the Flint River as the city’s water source. Lead leached from service lines and home plumbing into tap water.