Detroit-area water leader quitting weeks after floods

Detroit-area water leader quitting weeks after floods
The head of a regional water agency in southeastern Michigan says she’s resigning, weeks after thousands of homes were spoiled by sewage backups during a tremendous storm

The head of a regional water agency in southeastern Michigan said Tuesday that she would resign, weeks after thousands of homes were spoiled by sewage backups during a tremendous storm.

Sue McCormick didn’t cite the June 25-26 flooding as the reason for her departure, though the controversy clearly has tarnished the Great Lakes Water Authority. She said she had been contemplating retirement.

“While I am extremely proud of all the GLWA team has accomplished in its first five years, I also recognize that now is the time for me to make my future intentions public as we all move forward,” McCormick said.

A meeting of the agency’s governing board was scheduled for Wednesday.

Power disruptions at pump stations have been blamed for the backup of water and sewage in basements in Detroit and many suburbs during a storm that dropped more than 6 inches (0.15 meters) of rain in a short period in late June.

McCormick, however, has said she doesn’t believe the flooding could have been prevented due to the extraordinary storm. An investigation is underway.

The Detroit News reported Monday that power was down at a pump station two days before the storm. McCormick told the Detroit City Council on Tuesday that no one in leadership was aware of it.

“I just think there have been a lot of challenges along the way. Let’s just say I think she made the appropriate decision,” Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said of McCormick’s resignation.

The GLWA, which is governed by representatives from Detroit and surrounding counties, was born out of the Detroit bankruptcy. It provides water to nearly 40% of Michigan’s residents as well as wastewater services.

McCormick was head of the Detroit water department before leading the GLWA.

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