DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The Oakland County Board of Commissioners has approved joining a new regional authority to take over operations of Detroit’s water system.

The commissioners voted 18-2 on Wednesday night on the Great Lakes Water Authority. Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash said the move was in the best interest of the taxpayers.

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“This historic vote gives Southeast Michigan a chance for a fresh start to build a sustainable, collaborative regional water and sewer authority, to meet our future needs and grow with our economy,” Nash said in a statement.

The votes follow earlier approval by the Wayne County Commission and Detroit City Council. Macomb County commissioners are scheduled to vote Thursday.

The authority only needed approval of one county and Detroit to move forward.

Under the deal, Detroit will retain ownership of the system, but Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties will have a greater say in operations.

The counties will lease regional water assets from Detroit for $50 million a 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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Plan details: BULLET POINTSSUMMARYMAP

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