Great Lakes Water Authority CEO out the door and not taking our questions

Posted at 9:21 PM, Aug 11, 2021
and last updated 2022-03-17 20:04:21-04

She had resigned under fire after thousands of basements and streets were filled with sewage backups in June. Now, Great Lakes Water Authority's Sue McCormick is out and refused to take questions from 7 Action News on her final day. McCormick remains on the payroll until Sept. 28 as a consultant.

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Sources say she was told to resign after the rain and sewer backups on June 26, where she stayed in her home in the Lansing area for a week.

The GLWA Board voted to appoint Suzanne Coffey, on the GLWA staff, as chief planning officer as interim CEO.

“When someone resigns, you have to get someone else in there acting as soon as possible. But we took several weeks to evaluate that,” said board member Brian Baker.

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People who had sewage backups in their basements back in June unloaded on the Authority Board. Sue Baker said it was overwhelming.

“With a force so strong, it blew the washing machine into the air,” Baker said while in tears. She can’t afford to replace her basement appliances, including her hot water heater.

She told the board, “I gotta go to Lowes to get bath water and put it in the dispenser to get hot water cause y’all aren’t doing what you’re supposed to do!”

Rober Sisler also lives on the east side.

“We do not ever sign up to have our basement to be used as a retaining center for when you can’t process the sewage,” he told the board.

Water Authority Board member Gary Brown is the director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. He tells 7 Action News they’ve gotten 30,000 claims for damage. The GLWA could not tell us yesterday how many claims they’ve gotten. Brown says they’ve hired an outside firm to help process and investigate 22,000 of the claims to determine if backups were from the GLWA pumps that failed or the city system.

“If there was a defect, we’ll negotiate a settlement with the resident,” Brown said.

The GLWA has two investigations underway to determine what went wrong. An update to the community is set for Aug. 25 but the outside investigation won’t be done for 60 to 90 days.