Thursday, June 25, 2009

Genesee County Proposes $600 Million Water Pipeline, New Water Authority

A month after applying to withdraw up to 85 million gallons a day from Lake Huron, Genesee County today laid out an ambitious plan to construct its own water supply system. The projected cost is $600 million.
Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright told representatives of communities in Genesee, Lapeer and Sanilac counties at a meeting on June 25th that construction on the pipeline project could start by this time next year. He added that the chance to build the pipeline might never come again.
"If we don't take this opportunity -- in 30 years there won't be another opportunity to build this," Wright said. "Interest rates are favorable right now and there are government programs that could help pay" the cost of the borrowing.
The $600-million construction estimate includes the cost of several pumping stations, an inland reservoir in Lapeer County, twin pipelines along part of the route and water treatment facilities in each of the three counties. Wright said the pipeline construction would create more than 500 jobs for three to five years.

The pipeline would be owned by a new Karegnondi Water Authority, which could include the city of Flint, the city of Lapeer, Sanilac County, Lapeer County, Genesee County and St. Clair County.

Communities that agree to join the authority would pay a proportional share of the cost of building the pipeline, according to Wright. He said his goal is to establish the authority within 120 days, complete engineering, design and surveying work in the next nine months, and start construction of the buried pipeline by the time next year.

[Note: Although Oakland contributed $125,000 to a joint study looking at the feasibility of a new regional water authority in 2007, it does not appear that they are ready to join Genesee County as part of the new Karegnondi Water Authority.]

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