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Flint might restructure bonds to pay for water improvements

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The city of Flint wants to restructure some bond payments to pay for two million dollars of recommended fixes to the city’s troubled water system.

A year ago, the city ended its contract with the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and opted to treat water from the Flint River instead.

Since then, people have complained about the water’s taste, smell and appearance. The city was also cited for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act for higher than acceptable levels of a disinfectant by-product.  

A consultanthired by the city, Veolia North America, says Flint needs to do more training of staff, make changes to the chemicals used, and buy new equipment.

Mayor Dayne Walling says the need to fix the system justifies the added costs down the road. 

“Well the number one thing we have to have is safe water,” says Walling, “that’s high quality, that everyone can depend on. And that’s worth paying for.”

Walling says the changes will add “six figures” to paying off Flint’s bonds.

Flint’s Emergency Manager pegs the added cost at $228,000. 

Most of the fixes will only need to be in effect until the city starts getting its tap water from Lake Huron. The new Karegondi Water Authority pipeline is expected to be online by sometime in 2016.

Mayor Walling says the fixes are worth the cost, even if it’s only for another 16 months.

“It’s worth paying a few million dollars to get the system so that it’s dependable,” says Walling. 

The bond restructuring is not a done deal.

Approval of the state treasurer is required before the restructuring can occur.

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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