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Federal judge may rule soon on motions on Flint's future water source

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A federal judge may rule soon on whether to give the Flint city council more time decide on a future drinking water source for the city.

Tuesday, attorneys for the state of Michigan and city of Flint filed responses to a motion from the Flint city council asking for a delay in an order that it decide on a water source.

Flint’s mayor and state officials want a 30-year contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority. But the city council has refused to sign the deal over concerns about future water rate increases. Despite court-ordered mediation, no progress has been made on a compromise.

State officials warn that granting the Flint city council’s request for “a stay would harm the residents of Flint by significantly increasing the risk that Flint’s water system will fail, and therefore would not be in the public’s interest.”

Also in their motion, attorneys for the state ask the judge to enter an order requiring the City of Flint to “immediately enter into the (Master) Agreement without regard to the Council’s objection.”

“I feel sorry for them,” Flint city council president Kerry Nelson reacted after learning of the motion. “They are forgetting about democracy. They’re forgetting about the people of this community who’s already suffering.”

The Great Lakes Water Authority has been providing Flint’s drinking water for two years. GLWA stepped in after the city’s ill-fated experiment with getting water from the Flint River.  

The city council has proposed a two-year extension of Flint’s temporary contract with GLWA. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she does “not believe a two-year extension is a viable solution.”

It’s unclear when U.S. District Judge David Lawson will rule on any of the motions.

Last night, during a debate featuring candidates running in next month’s Flint mayoral recall election, candidates were asked what the city’s source of drinking water should be. Some suggested from the Great Lakes Water Authority, though with a modified contract. Others pointed to the Karegnondi Water Authority.  

However in the end, a federal judge may decide long before next month’s election.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.