Township to supply water to GM plant

FLINT TWP. — General Motors’ Flint Engine Plane, 2100 Bristol Road, is making plans to hook up to the Flint Township water supply, under a water provision franchise agreement approved Monday night by the township board.

The change is needed because Flint water is unsuitable.

“The water we have been getting from the city has chloride levels that are higher than we can use in our machinery,” said Tom Wickham, GM Plant Communications Manager. “While the city water is safe to drink and for general use our engine plant requires lower levels of chlorides to reduce the risk of corrosion. As a result, we are going to tie into the township’s water supply, paying for the connection and water use.”

In April, the City of Flint switched back to the Flint River as its water source from a longstanding agreement with Detroit as its water supplier, which was becoming too costly. Flint will connect to the new Karegnondi Water Pipeline now under construction from Lake Huron and expected to be completed in 2016.

Flint Township still gets its water supply from Detroit.

Flint Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said that GM officials approached the township a few weeks ago with an “urgent” request for the water franchise agreement.

“They are currently trucking in water,’’ she said.

Township officials worked with attorneys and city and county officials to quickly hammer out an arrangement that could remain in place until the Karegnondi pipeline is ready.

City of Flint officials signed a release for the franchise agreement and the Genesee County Drain Commission said that GM’s water needs could be accommodated by the township water supply, she said.

The township board unanimously approved the franchise agreement.

“This is one of the few manufacturing plants we have left in Genesee County,’’ said Trustee George Menoutes. “If we don’t try to help them with water when we have plenty of it, shame on us. If they need water then, by golly, I want to give it to them.”

The agreement applies only to the Flint Engine Plant. GM also operates a Flint Assembly plant in that area.

The agreement exempts the township from any costs or problems associated with connection, maintenance or disconnection from its water supply. However, township officials will issue and finalize all permits and inspections associated with the connection. The county will bill GM for the water but payments will be made to the township, with some conditions.

The agreement does not apply to Flint Engine’s sewer services, which the City of Flint will continue providing.

If problems occur after the connection is installed where Flint Township cannot provide water services, arrangements will be made for the City of Flint to provide water, until the problem is resolved.

The agreement also states that it is based on assurance from the county that supplying water to GM will not “negatively impact the water supply” to current township water customers.

Wickham said that a connection date for hooking up to the township water supply has not been set yet.

“This will continue until the city of Flint provides a water supply with chloride levels suitable to use in our equipment,’’ he said.

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