PARCHMENT, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Parchment is one step closer to making a permanent change to how people get water.

Since high levels of PFAS, a likely carcinogen, were found in Parchment’s municipal water system this summer, the neighboring city of Kalamazoo has been providing clean drinking water. Under the initial one-year contract facilitating that, Parchment was still responsible for billing users and maintaining the system.

At Monday night’s Parchment City Commission meeting, several people spoke in favor of a new contract.

“We need the sophisticated resources that Kalamazoo offers,” Parchment resident Cheryl Lyon-Jenness said after the meeting. “They clearly have the capacity for testing, for going forward, in ways that can protect citizens.”

Commissioners ultimately unanimously approved a motion to negotiate a new agreement for Kalamazoo to provide water, billing and supervision of the system.

That’s how Kalamazoo’s water contracts with several other nearby cities and townships, including Oshtemo and Comstock townships. In each of those cases, Kalamazoo provides the water and bills customers. In return, Kalamazoo is responsible for the upkeep of the entire water system.

“That’s pretty much a turn-key system that Kalamazoo provides,” Kalamazoo Public Services Director James Baker said. “It doesn’t really make sense to have each smaller community trying to operate their own labs and staff their own certified operators and staff distribution folks and everything else.”

The two cities will now work out a deal that both commissions would have to approve before the agreement is final.