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Detroit City Council rejects contract to overhaul water system

Kate Boicourt

The Detroit City Council has unanimously rejected a controversial contract to overhaul the city’s water department.

Department officials wanted to award a $48 million contract to Minneapolis-based EMA Consultants.

The company proposed to lay off about 80% of the department’s workforce, in what officials called a necessary move to halt future rate increases.

But critics said the plan would do little more than gut and privatize the water system.

Council member Ken Cockrel Jr. said the Environmental Protection Agency had also asked for time to review the plan’s implications.

“Those 45 days have not elapsed yet," Cockrel said. "We have not heard from the EPA. They have not indicated that they have no concerns. And I think when you have a federal agency that’s in charge of regulating environmental concerns for the country…I think we ought to give them the time to do it.” 

It’s not yet clear what steps water department officials now plan to take.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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