Board continues to seek solution to water system disconnection issue

GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Grand Blanc Township Board of Trustees continues to work toward a solution in the ongoing debate over whether or not to allow certain water customers to disconnect from the municipal system.

The topic first came before the board in October 2019 when residents of the Grand Reserve asked to disconnect a portion of the condominium development’s water system in order to utilize wells for watering the grass in common areas.

Last October, the previous board approved an amendment to the township’s water ordinance to allow commercial customers, such as the Grand Reserve, to disconnect for purposes of irrigation.

Upon taking office, the six new board members and returning Supervisor Scott Bennett promptly placed a moratorium on the amendment to allow more time to study the potential impact on township-wide water rates and water quality.

“We have no idea what kind of impact this would have because we don’t know who else would want to do it if we open it up to everybody,” Bennett said last week.

He said a recent impact study was incomplete because it only addressed the potential effect of residential disconnections.

Not to mention, the Grand Reserve water system was constructed to accommodate irrigation.

“We built this system with that development stating they wanted our water for irrigation,” Bennett said. “So, we put out the capital expense to build that system. We’re glad (to do that for other developments). But, to get the money back from that construction is not a quick return.”

Township Superintendent Dennis Liimatta explained in a later telephone interview that the water mains going into the project were sized to accommodate irrigation.

Township officials, while sympathetic to the wants and needs of the residents, also are concerned about setting a precedent and following public policy.

“Are we going to be consistent?” Liimatta said. “Or are we going to say, once you’ve spent the money to size the system based on what you’ve been told by the developer, you don’t let them come back and disconnect.”

Grand Blanc View records show that the developer, Pulte Homes, had initially provided the condominium residents with a subsidy to help offset the cost of water. They no longer receive the subsidy.

Trustee Joel Feick said he still hasn’t made up his mind about the matter.

“This is kind of a unique situation where the developer kind of left them holding the bag,” he said.

Liimatta said allowing the residents to disconnect the irrigation system would save each customer in the Grand Reserve about $7 per month.

“So, is it really worth compromising our policy and jeopardizing the future of our water system?” Bennett asked.

He added, “I’m here to do what’s right for everyone in the township.”

As it stands, the moratorium remains in effect while township attorney David Lattie and Department of Public Works Director Jeff Sears work on cleaning up the ordinance language.

The board of trustees will revisit the issue in April.