Policy: Environment & Energy

Grosse Pointe Park could stop using Detroit water

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News,Business,Detroit,Energy and Environment

GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (AP) — Grosse Pointe Park has come up with a plan that could make it the next Michigan community to stop buying water from Detroit.

The suburb of about 12,000 residents has proposed building its own $15 million water filtration plant at a park along Lake St. Clair near the Detroit River, the Detroit Free Press reported (http://on.freep.com/1jKNZpF ). State approval would be needed along with a voter-approved bond sale to cover construction costs.

Grosse Pointe Park said it would implement the plan only if rates are increased as part of Detroit's bankruptcy. On Monday, the suburb renewed its sewage contract with Detroit. Officials in Detroit said they're hopeful Grosse Pointe Park will stay in the regional system.

"Grosse Pointe Park is one of the communities that has yet to renew their long-term contract with us. We're in negotiations with them on that," said Detroit Water and Sewerage Department spokesman Bill Johnson.

Because of its waterfront location, Grosse Pointe Park would find it easy and inexpensive to obtain drinking water, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Theokas said.

"We really only have to stick a pipe out a foot and we'll have all the water we need," Theokas said. "Sewer is a different matter. Everybody is staying with the (DWSD) sewer system. But we're certainly interested in keeping our water rates from going up a lot."

Earlier this year, the city of Flint stopped using water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. Water from the Flint River is being used as a temporary measure until the Karegnondi Water Authority completes a pipeline in 2016 from Lake Huron to serve the area.

If Grosse Pointe Park goes ahead with its plans, that could add to the momentum of communities choosing to break away from Detroit's system. It also could drive up rates for remaining customers, said Dennis Green, a former engineering director with the Detroit system.

"Everybody in the north rim of the system is already leaving," said Dennis Green of Farmington Hills, noting changes in areas including Flint. The new Lake Huron pipeline would serve Flint, surrounding Genesee County and parts of Lapeer County. "The dominoes are falling, one by one."

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department serves more than 4 million customers in southeast Michigan, but the Karegnondi Water Authority would cut the extent of Detroit's system. Oakland County also is studying how it might depend less on Detroit water.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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