News headlining in the following week suggests that conditions in the city have not improved, but worsened, to the point that seven members of the Flint City Council have voted to “do all things necessary” to return to purchasing water from the Detroit Water and Sewer Department.
Emergency manager, Jerry Ambrose thinks this vote “incomprehensible” and insists that the water the city currently uses from the Flint River is safe by all required standards.
He thinks that the additional cost involved with switching back to Detroit is ridiculous considering that the Detroit water is no safer than Flint’s.
However, Councilman Eric Mays says that Ambrose is wrong in his assumptions about the extra cost. “We must talk to each other,” Mays said. “I’ll try to initiate an understanding.”
M Live reports:
“Flint’s long-term plans involve connection to the Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline that’s under construction — a connection that will bring Lake Huron water to the city again — but not until sometime in 2016.
The city has used the Flint River as its water source since April after decades of purchasing already-treated lake water from Detroit.
Since that switch, residents have increasingly complained about water quality and there have been several boil water advisories in the city because of bacteria concerns.
City water met all health and safety standards in January and February testing, but the city remains in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act because of overall TTHM levels since the switch from DWSD.
Ambrose has said the cost of water in Flint would likely rise 30 percent or more if the city returned to buying it from the city of Detroit for one year.
“If $12 million annually were available for discretionary use, it would be far better spent reducing rates paid by Flint customers and/or modernizing the City’s system,” Ambrose statement today says.”
It seems as though Flint is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Long term solutions need to be agreed and executed before it’s too late.
From an infrastructure asset management perspective these solutions should include analysis of:
- The required levels of service – both the mandatory Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and residents requirements for water quality
- Future demand for water services in Flint, including analysis of demand management initiatives
- Risks associated with the provision of water service
- Lifecycle management and cost analysis of Flint’s pipes, tanks, pump stations, and treatment facilities
- Financial expenditure and revenue analysis – including analysis of the whole of life cost of different scenarios
The long term management of water services is a significant investment for any community, and as such often generates much community discussion and debate on the best way forward.
Structured infrastructure management planning can assist communities by providing a sound analytical base for these discussions.
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