The water problem caused by incompetent politicians is just getting worse, because of more incompetent politicians.
As Flint Mayor Karen Weaver resists growing pressure to quickly recommit her city to a $285-million pipeline project that she didn’t negotiate and isn’t convinced is the best way for residents to get safe, affordable drinking water in the wake of the lead-poisoning crisis, a top county official is warning the city will “lose everything” if it pulls out of the project and defaults on promised debt payments.
The Karegnondi Water Authority, which would be stuck with Flint’s share of the debt, would seize the city’s water treatment plant and other assets, plus 25% of the city’s constitutional revenue-sharing payments from the state, Genesee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jamie Curtis told the Free Press.
Flint’s debt is “heavily, heavily secured,” and “they would lose everything they have,” Curtis said.
Former Mayor Dayne Walling signed a contract in 2013 with KWA to finance the rebuilding of the city’s water system.
Unfortunately for the city of Flint, not only can the KWA seize Flint water assets and revenue-sharing money in the event of a default, but it can “direct the local unit to make a tax levy to reimburse the authority.”
While those punishing terms appear to make a Flint default unlikely, whether Flint hooks up with the new KWA pipeline to Lake Huron or opts to continue receiving treated Lake Huron water from the former Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, now the Great Lakes Water Authority, as it does now, remains a live issue.
A recent MIRS News/Target Insyght poll found that 36% of Flint residents want to stay on Detroit water, 24% want to go with the KWA and 40% just don’t know.
Harvey Hollins, Gov. Rick Snyder’s point man on the Flint drinking water crisis, said at a meeting of the coordinating committee responding to the crisis that 80% of Flint residents say they “have no idea what KWA is,” based on focus groups.
One possibility involves Flint trying to extricate itself from the 2013 contract. Another possibility — which could be too costly to be workable — involves Flint honoring or renegotiating its commitment to KWA, while still opting to use the Detroit system as its primary drinking water source.
Flint has some leverage — which it has been exercising — in that certain KWA transactions can’t take place as planned without Weaver’s signature.
Whatever ends up being the solution, the city needs to pull out all the stops to get drinking water up to standards. The people have suffered enough under their incompetent rule.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
January 5th, 2017
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