Tuesday, July 14, 2009

DWSD Opposes Genesee County Water Plans

Genesee County's ambitious plan to build its own $600 million water system is encountering push back from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. No surprise.

In a June 29, 2009 letter (below), Interim-Director Pam Turner lays out DWSD's opposition to Genesee County's plan. Among the objections, DWSD contends Genesee County's proposal violates the evaluation criteria in the Great Lakes Compact, because it fails to address the availability of existing water supply systems (ie., the DWSD system).

In particular, DWSD has already undertaken plans to improve the supply of drinking water to Genesee County.

Both the Flint Loop and North Oakland Transmission projects were designed to increase supply and provide redundancy for Genesee County and the City of Flint. DWSD has already spent $28.6 million designing these two projects, and awarded a construction management contract. Theses projects are "shovel ready," but require the City of Flint to sign a new 30 year contract with DWSD, particularly in light of previously reported declines in water revenue. Removing the City of Flint from the calculation of water rates would increase water rates for the remaining ratepayers at least 6%, according to DWSD's estimate.

Its also appears that Genesee County's plans caught DWSD a bit flat-footed. Ms. Turner complains that when DWSD and Genesee County met on March 10, 2009 to discuss a cost-sharing plan, Genesee County failed to mention that it had already filed its application for a withdrawal permit a month earlier.

However, Genesee County Drain Commissioner, Jeff Wright, has not been secret about his plans for constructing a new water authority, as reported here. Mr. Wright's response to Pam Turner's 8-page letter was outlined in a July 6, 2009 article in the Flint Journal (here).

The MDEQ will receive public comments on Genesee County's withdrawal application until July 15, 2009, and then is expected to make a decision by August 22, 2009. Given DWSD's opposition, a delay in MDEQ's decision is likely.

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