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The Great Lakes Water Authority will continue to provide drinking water to Flint for another year as the city attempts to get its long-term solution to lead contamination in place.

Authority board members voted June 27 to extend their assistance agreement through the end of June 2017, providing Flint safe drinking water until it can tie into the new Karegnondi Water Authority, likely next year.

Perhaps most important for Flint residents, the authority will provide the water at the same price it has been charging since the city returned to the Detroit-based system in October.

The city has battled lead contamination issues in its drinking water since it began using the Flint River as its source in April 2014. While under the control of emergency financial managers appointed by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Flint ended its long-running relationship with the authority in an attempt to save money.

But city and state officials failed to properly treat the Flint River water with corrosion inhibitors designed to prevent lead contamination. Following the switch in 2014, residents immediately complained of foul odors, strange tastes and discoloration in their tap water.

In September, researchers discovered high lead levels in blood tests from Flint children and in the municipal water, causing the city to eventually return to the Great Lakes Water Authority system. Additionally, the failure to properly treat the river water with corrosion controls has been linked to a spike in cases of Legionnaires’ disease — a spike that included 12 deaths.

“This tragedy continues to increase costs for a city that is experiencing a public health emergency, and we want to reassure residents the GLWA will not increase costs to them through the term of the city’s agreement with us,” authority CEO Sue McCormick said. “As a larger, established system, we have the ability to hold the line on charges for Flint in light of the public health situation they are facing.”

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver welcomed the news.

“I’d like to express my thanks and appreciation to the Great Lakes Water Authority Board for extending its service agreement with the City of Flint for another year without an increase in water rates through the term of the contract,” Weaver said in a statement.

“As the City of Flint continues to deal with the uncertainties and effects related to this man-made water disaster, having the assurance that the water rates will not be raised for at least another year is one less issue residents have to worry about.”

JLynch@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2034

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