As of Tuesday, the people of Flint, Mich., have been without clean water for 1,306 days. Infrastructure changes as the city’s pipes are replaced have resulted in residents being forced to continue to rely on bottled water or water filters for a semblance of clean water. The city has also been without a permanent source of clean water to rely upon once the pipes are replaced, but a judge’s order may see that problem solved as early as Tuesday night.
U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered representatives from the city of Flint, the City Council, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Genesee County Drain Commissioner, the Great Lakes Water Authority and the Karegnondi Water Authority into mediation for hours Monday, according to MLive-Flint Journal. The judge also stipulated that the Flint City Council would have until Tuesday night to vote on an amended 30-year water contract with Great Lakes Water Authority.
That vote will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council chambers and will include amendments to the contract put forth by the city.
Council President Herbert Winfrey said, “I still don’t think it’s the best, but there are now some deal sweeteners in there that will certainly benefit the citizens of Flint.”
Winfrey added that he believed Judge Lawson had been “more than patient” with the City Council. The “deal sweeteners” that Winfrey referred to were introduced earlier Monday at a City Council meeting.
The new version of the 30-year agreement that the council will vote on includes a promise from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to appoint a qualified Flint representative to the six-member Great Lakes Water Authority board that is responsible for determining water rates.
The contract also asks that the city be granted $750,000 for estimated water bill relief and that the $100 million in relief funds from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act be immediately released from the state to Flint. The WIIN Act funds are the federal relief funds President Barack Obama authorized when he signed the continuing resolution over a year ago.
In addition, the state of Michigan has requested that the General Motors Engine Plant return as a user of Flint’s water supply.
On Monday the Michigan DEQ had gone to court to ask Lawson to bypass the City Council and allow Flint Mayor Karen Weaver to sign the agreement. Attorneys for the City Council called that move unconstitutional.
This is all part of a lengthy court battle that began in June when the state of Michigan sued the Flint City Council, alleging that the latter was endangering public health by not signing a water agreement.
Winfrey said that the council had a lengthy series of closed and open meetings to go over the contract with various city, county and state officials. Members also sat down with the mayor for the first time to discuss the deal.
Hopefully, all of this government infighting can come to an end and the people of Flint can start getting what they need from their government.
Read more at MLive-Flint Journal.