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Flint still hammering out details to return to Detroit water

Oct 12, 2015

Flint officials are still working out the details of returning to Detroit water.

Flint city administrator Natasha Henderson
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Last week, Gov. Snyder announced a $12 million plan to reconnect Flint to Detroit water.   The state is putting up half the money.  The rest is coming from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the city. 

A year and a half ago, Flint switched its drinking water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River.  That was meant to be temporary while the new Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline was under construction.

That pipeline is expected to start bringing water from Lake Huron to Flint in mid-2016.  However, the Flint River has been blamed for numerous problems since the switch.   

But City Administrator Natasha Henderson says there is a lot to do before they can switch back to Detroit water.

Henderson says the old pipe connecting Flint to DWSD must be cleaned and disinfected, the opening of valves must be coordinated, and state regulators must sign off.  And she says there are other logistical and contractual details to work out. 

“I actually see things going very quickly,” says Henderson. “There’s not just a template that says, ‘OK, you’re going to switch to this water system.  This is exactly how it’s going to be.'”

Henderson expects the deal will be done in two weeks. 

City Public Works director Howard Croft says it will take three weeks to flush the leftover Flint River water from city pipes after the Detroit water starts flowing.

Experts expect there will continue to be a problem with lead leaching from pipes for some time, even with the less corrosive water from Detroit.