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Flint officials are considering tapping the Flint River as a source for drinking water

(Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Rising water costs have Flint officials looking at the Flint River as a source of drinking water. 

Flint's troubled water and sewer system was the subject of a public meeting last evening.

Emergency manager Mike Brown says drinking water is Flint’s third biggest problem, right behind crime and the city’s crushing debt.

Flint currently gets its drinking water from the city of Detroit.  But the cost of doing that has risen dramatically.    This year, the city of Flint is spending nine million dollars more for water from Detroit than it did in 2006.

Brown says water from the Flint River and Lake Huron could be blended with water from Detroit.   He says that would mean Flint could use much less water from Detroit and spend less too.

Brown says the state will have to sign off on any changes to Flint’s municipal water system.

“What I would hope is by early Fall...to say this is what we think is best for Flint,” says Brown.

Mike Brown says the city will soon need to reach a new water agreement with the city of Detroit.     He says the counties that are making plans for the pipeline from Lake Huron will also need to know whether or not the city of Flint will participate in the construction project and how much water the city would want.    Construction on the pipeline could begin early next year. 

Meanwhile, Flint residents are paying a steep price for water.   City water and sewer fees have more than doubled since January 2011.

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