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Flint city council reviewing options after judge tells them to decide on future water source

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Flint city council members are assessing their options now that a federal judge has told them the time has come to decide the city’s long-term tap water source.

Flint has been getting its drinking water from the Great Lakes Water Authority since the fall of 2015.   Flint’s mayor and state government officials agreed to a 30-year contract to keep the water flowing. But Flint council members have balked.

Their main concern is about rising future costs.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered negotiations to try to resolve the dispute between the city council and Flint’s mayor, state government officials, and GLWA.

However, the judge’s patience appears to have reached its end.

Yesterday, Lawson decided the talks had gone on long enough and ordered the council to make a decision by Monday.

Councilman Scott Kincaid says the judge just wants the issue off his docket. 

“I don’t understand his motivation. Other than he’s trying to look out for the best interests of GLWA and the governor.”

The issue landed on Judge Lawson’s docket after the state sued, in an attempt to force the city council to sign off on the 30-year agreement.

GLWA is not part of the current suit. The utility issued a statement last night:

"The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) remains ready to serve the city of Flint with water of unquestionable quality through a long-term agreement. When Flint first reached out to the Authority regarding its public health emergency, we swiftly responded, reconnecting residents to the regional water system within four short days, and the city remains connected today."

Councilman Scott Kincaid says council members are talking to attorneys about their options, which may include appealing Lawson’s order to a higher court.

He expects the council will take some action on Monday, if just to avoid being found in contempt of court.   

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.
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