Work on replacing high-risk lead service lines in Flint, Mich. is under way as state and city leaders collaboratively focus on removing pipes in priority areas while analyzing the city’s water pipe network to maximize efficiency, according a press release from Gov. Rick Snyder.
The state came to an agreement Feb. 16 with Rowe Professional Services, a Flint-based engineering firm, to update recent analysis of water pipes in the city and boost efforts to protect the health and safety of city residents.
“We’re committed to the people of Flint, and the top priority is ensuring people have access to safe water,” Snyder said. “We need to make sure people will be able to once again turn on the tap and be able to use what comes from it. We’re immediately targeting high-risk, high-hazard homes to help those families. Together, we can focus on longer-term solutions.”
Retired National Guard Brig. General Michael McDaniel is assisting in coordinating the efforts between the city of Flint, the Lansing Board of Water and Light, state and federal agencies and other stakeholders.
“Flint Mayor Karen Weaver wants this work to be completed as quickly as possible to protect Flint residents,” McDaniel said. “We’ve been working in partnership to identify the areas that need to be addressed immediately and remove lead pipes, bringing peace of mind to Flint families and make sure this never happens again.”
Snyder said a supplemental budget request approved unanimously in the Legislature last month includes money for utilities and can be used to survey Flint’s underground network of pipes. Ongoing water testing is revealing where there are high-risk, high-priority areas that should be addressed most quickly. Teams are moving with great urgency to locate where lead water pipes are located and focus on high-risk areas.
“We need to find out which of the city’s pipes are made of lead and have lead soldering, and are the most critical to address immediately,” he said. “We’re hiring Flint residents and training them to assist with that process, working together to make the community safer.”
A supplemental budget request to the Legislature includes $25 million that can be used for water infrastructure. Snyder said other resources can potentially be tapped for additional funds to replace pipes.
The $25 million was included in a $195 million package of immediate and long-term support for Flint and its families that Snyder unveiled as part of Wednesday’s budget presentation, focusing on health, education and infrastructure.
The budget request includes money for other infrastructure needs, including water testing, inspecting and replacing fixtures in schools and daycare facilities, prioritizing infrastructure repairs and staying connected with Detroit water.
Also included is money for food and nutritional programs, health-related programs and funds to bring relief to residents who had been paying for water they could not use.