City council postpones decision to construct backup water source

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Flint, MI — The decision to move forward with the construction of a secondary water source was postponed until May 11 at Monday’s city council meeting.

The postponement is the latest of a series of delays for a project to construct a secondary water pipeline, originally planned to be completed in 2019.

April 25 marked the six-year mark of the Flint water crisis, when the city switched to using Flint River water but failed to treat it properly, leading to an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease and toxic levels of lead leaching into the water supply.

Federal law requires that the city have a backup source of water. At the moment, Flint has no such backup source beyond reservoirs that are estimated to run dry within a few days of being used, should the main line running from Detroit be compromised.

The city of Flint’s search for a secondary water source was a major point of discussion during Monday’s meeting, when council was presented with a special order to allow Eric Oswald, Director of Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division with EGLE, to discuss construction of a secondary source.

The project, according to Oswald, was a part of a project plan that was approved in 2018, which included several interrelated projects, financed by WIIN funding,  that came after Great Lakes Water Authority was chosen as the city’s primary water source.

“I think everyone is aware that the Great Lakes Water Authority is a single point of failure. So, if that transmission main from the Great Lakes Water Authority is interrupted for any reasons the city basically only has the water that it has, and its storage which is about one day available for provisions of water to the city. And that’s certainly not an acceptable situation for either EPA or EGLE,” explained Oswald.

Construction of the pipeline is the only viable option, he said, when it comes to meeting both EPA and Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act guidelines, dismissing previous suggestions that Flint should have its own treatment plant.

“Treatment of raw water at this point in time is not what we would consider a viable option and would wind up costing probably tens of millions of dollars and result in an unacceptable delay in a secondary water source for the city. We do not believe that the city has the technical managerial financial capacity to treat raw water at this time.”

The planned date-of-completion for the secondary pipeline, as of now, is the end of December 2020. Previously, it had been December 2019.

 

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