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Flint officials exploring return to Detroit water

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint officials are seriously looking at returning to Detroit water.

City Administrator Natasha Henderson is talking with the different groups needed to make the switch back to the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

The city switched from DWSD about a year and a half ago to the Flint River for the city’s drinking water. But the switch has been plagued with problems, from foul-smelling water to rising lead levels. 

Mayor Dayne Walling says something must be done now.

“We need a comprehensive action plan in place this week,” says Walling.

The state will likely be asked to play a critical financial role.

Money is the key obstacle. Walling estimates going babck to DWSD will cost the city of Flint an extra $1.5 million a month. 

It was the rising cost of Detroit water that led state-appointed emergency managers to decide to switch the city of Flint to a new water source. 

The emergency manager signed a deal to hook up Flint to the new Karegnondi pipeline. The KWA pipeline will carry water from Lake Huron to Genesee County. But the KWA won’t be online until 2016. 

The Flint River was intended to bridge the gap between the end of the DWSD contract and the beginning of the KWA contract.

But since the switch was thrown in April 2014, Flint residents have complained about the smell, taste and appearance of the city’s tap water.  

More problems followed, including E. coli outbreaks and high levels of a potentially cancer-causing chemical.

Recently, multiple reports have revealed rising lead levels in Flint drinking water and in the blood of the city’s young children.  

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.
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