FOIA request filed involving Oakland County Executive’s water plans for the county

For Immediate Release:         

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

CONTACT: Frank Houston (248) 808-7166   


PONTIAC, MI – Today a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request was filed pertaining to Oakland County Executive Brooks Patterson’s previously stated interest in leaving the Detroit water system and potentially joining the proposed Karegnondi pipeline project.

“The startling lack of transparency and foresight by our State officials in regards to the crisis in Flint, makes it even more important for people to vigilantly pursue the best information available to ensure public health is protected,” said Frank Houston, Chairman of the Oakland County Democratic Party. 

FOIA requests are not permitted for records pertaining to State Legislators or the Governor.  Further, local communities and County governments have significantly different policies when it comes to maintaining and sharing records, communications and research at their disposal.

“Our County Executive has a long history of making rash – and I think it’s safe to say in retrospect – poorly informed statements related to Oakland County’s water supply, as well as a whole host of other issues,” said Frank Houston, Chairman of the Oakland County Democratic.  “Fortunately, in this case, cooler heads prevailed.”

Brooks Patterson joined Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, Jim Nash, in halting Oakland County’s interests in joining the Karegnondi project for the foreseeable future, while signing up Oakland County as a founding partner in the  Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) – which exists to “not only position an emerging Detroit for long term success but to give suburban water and sewer customers a powerful voice in the management and direction of one of the largest water wastewater utilities in the nation.”

Patterson is widely recognized as the foremost critic of the Detroit Water Department and the creation of the since adopted GLWA.

The GLWA is comprised of six board members: two from the City of Detroit, one representing the State of Michigan and one each from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.  Genesee County opted against joining the GLWA.

“With rising concerns about the future of our crumbling infrastructure in Michigan it’s becoming increasingly important for all of us to understand not only the decisions our elected officials make, but also the ‘how’ and ’why’ they make those decisions,” said Houston.

Although exorbitant costs appear to be the reason Oakland County withdrew their interests in the Karegnondi water project Houston and Richards questioned what other motivations or information may have informed the decision and Patterson’s previously stated interests in privatizing Detroit’s Water Department or acquiring a new water source and treatment system for Oakland County.  Earlier in his tenure as Oakland County Executive Patterson stated he had found a “convincing argument for privatization of the Detroit water system. 

Houston also noted Patterson’s lack of concern for the public health risks associated with lead poisoning and legionnaire’s disease in Flint leads to deeper questions. 

“Do Brooks Patterson, Governor Snyder and other politicians prioritize public health when making these types of decisions or are they only looking at dollars and cents?  We think the public deserves to know,” Houston concluded.

January 19th at the Detroit Economic Club, Patterson stated that “I don’t think we should say or use words anymore like Flint’s been poisoned.  Because I don’t think that’s accurate.”