County shooting for mid-Oct. water pipeline switch

FLINT TWP. — Plans are being made to go live next month with a “hard” switch to the new Karegnondi Water Authority water supply, leaving the Detroit’s Great Lakes Water Authority, said John O’Brien director of Genesee County Division of Water & Waste Services (GWWS).

In a status report to the Flint Township Board of Trustees on Monday, O’Brien said the switch date will be publicly announced when finalized but as of now is focused on mid-October.

“We will make a hard switch,’’ he said, which he described as immediate instead of a “soft opening”.

The water will be introduced over near the City of Davison so it could be three or four days afterwards before it comes down the pipeline to actively reach Flint Township residents and up to 14 days before it reaches the Montrose area, he said.

Residents should see no change in water pressure or temperature, he said.

Before that happens, the KWA in in the final stages of competing a pipeline in the Potter Road ForMar area that is scheduled for completion in mid-October.

The KWA water treatment plant at Marathon and Stanley Roads in Oregon Township was completed in July and is currently operational. GWWS is undertaking a start-up period that includes training staff, testing equipment and monitoring water quality.

KWA has done lead and copper sampling of the GLWA (Detroit) water supply and for comparison, will do sampling tests of the KWA water, after the switch and every six months for the next two years, he said. He also noted that some residents are also privately getting their water tested now to be able to do a before and after analysis of their water quality.

GWWS has met with representatives of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, he said.

“Our goal is to mimic the water you currently are receiving,” he said, noting that the KWA pipeline draws its water from Lake Huron – the same source as the GLWA. The main difference is that KWA will be going through its own treatment plant instead of Detroit’s. It will be delivered to residents the same way as GLWA water.

Also pending is a key decision to be made ultimately by the Genesee County Board of Commissioners on whether to continue to fluoridate the water.

The water received from Detroit is fluoridated and the KWA will continue to do so unless the county board decides otherwise, O’Brien said.

Public hearings will be scheduled before the board takes any action, he said, noting that there are arguments in favor and against fluoridation which has been done since the 1940s as a means to reduce tooth decay.

GWWS is not taking a position on the issue but for some it is seen as a health-related issue. There are those who say fluoridated water significantly reduces dental care costs and there are those who argue that it is mass medication, he said.

Genesee County is in a position to make a choice, he said.

GWWS currently serves 19 individual municipalities in Genesee County: The City of Burton, Clayton Township, Clio City, Davison Township, Flint Township, Flushing City, Flushing Township, Gaines Township, Genesee Township, Grand Blanc Township, Montrose City, Montrose Township, Mt. Morris City, Mt. Morris Township, Mundy Township, Richfield Township, the City of Swartz Creek, Thetford Township and Vienna Township.

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