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Detroit indictment puts water dept. future in question

This week’s indictmentagainst Detroit’s former mayor and others is likely to renew interest in changing the way the region’s massive water system is run. The federal government identified 13 scams in which water department contracts worth tens of millions of dollars were steered to a friend of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Kurt Heise will serve in the state House starting in January. He says he’s already getting a bill drafted to change the way the Detroit Water and Sewerage Departmentis managed:

"All of this scandal happened with the existing Board of Water Commissioners in charge of the operation. That is really not the way to go."

Heise added, "What we really need is a true legally established authority which puts the city and the suburbs on equal footing to run the department in a joint fashion."

Right now, a board of commissioners appointed by Detroit’s mayor oversees the department – which serves about four million customers in southeast Michigan.

Heise says under his plan the city of Detroit would retain ownership of the water system.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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