DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan went before City Council to discuss a historic plan to put the city’s water department under regional control.

The City of Detroit and executives with Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties agreed to create the Great Lakes Water Authority to manage water and sewer operations in the tri-county area.

Council (VThomas)Saying Detroit’s water system is under-funded and deals with 2,000 water main breaks a year, Duggan urged council members to move forward with the agreement.

Under the deal, Detroit will retain ownership of the system; but the counties will have a greater say in operations. The counties will lease regional water assets from Detroit $50 million per year for the next 40 years; and, for water customers, the rates imposed by the authority will be limited to 4-percent a year for the next 10 years.

But opponents of the Great Lakes Water Authority plan say it violates the city charter.

“I am talking about what I am to do as a council member,” said Council President Brenda Jones.”And the oath that I took there is a charter which has absolutely nothing to do with Judge Cox’s Order. And that is my question and again even to the Emergency Manager’s order and Public Act 436 – which states that the Emergency Manager does not have to follow the charter.”

Duggan said that because of the bankruptcy the city charter is suspended.

Jones said the plan violates the city charter, while City Attorney Melvin “Butch” Hollowell countered – that wasn’t the case.

“But it doesn’t state that the council does not have to follow the charter,” said Jones.

While Jones made the definitive statement and Hollowell thanked her, he matter of factly stated that was not the case.

“Unfortunately, I would respectively say that we have reached a conclusion – that that is not the case – that the federal court orders do apply to everyone.”

The Great Lakes Water Authority will be voted on by city council on Friday; if approved it would include six-members, two appointed by the mayor, one appointed by the governor and one each from the counties of Oakland, Wayne and Macomb.

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