DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A new regional authority will take over operations of Detroit’s water system with the approval of the Wayne County Commission.

The commission voted 14-1 Thursday to approve creation of the Great Lakes Water Authority.

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The Macomb and Oakland County commissions are scheduled to vote next week on joining the authority. To become active, the commission required the Detroit City Council and one of the county boards to approve it.

The city council acted Sept. 19, the plan with a 7-2 vote.

Under the deal, Detroit will retain ownership of the system; but the Wayne, Oakland and Macomb 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.

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The agreement guarantees funding to rebuild the system’s aging water infrastructure, as well as financial assistance for customers throughout the region who are struggling to pay their bills.

The Detroit water and sewer system consists of more than 3,400 miles of local water mains, 3,000 miles of local sewer pipes, 27,000 fire hydrants and an extensive billing and collection system, according to the city. The system serves about 700,000 Detroit residents and 4 million people in southeastern Michigan.

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