July 14, 2016 (Flint, Mich) – Brigadier General Michael McDaniel, manager of Mayor Karen Weaver’s FAST Start initiative, spent Thursday afternoon in meetings regarding the next round of pipes replacements in the City of Flint. City officials are focused on the progress being made and want the public to be informed with the correct information on the work that’s being done.
After getting several requests for comment regarding an online media report stating more than a third of pipes replaced in the city earlier this year by Rowe Engineering as part of the state’s pilot study on the FAST Start plan were to homes that did not have high lead levels, McDaniel wanted to set the record straight.
“There is a lot of false and misleading information in the article,” stated General McDaniel. “First of all, the resident quoted in the article lives at an address that was not part of the FAST Start pilot study. The pipes at her house on Church Street were replaced by, and at the request of, Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards.”
City officials also take issue with the amount of 15 parts per billion used in the article to define a “high lead” level. It’s important to note that 15 parts per billion is the federal action level, but Mayor Weaver, other officials and experts say action should be taken before the level of lead in citizens’ water reaches that point.
“The City of Flint has not and never will agree that 15 parts per billion is an acceptable level of lead in the water our residents drink,” said Mayor Weaver.
“As an example, the house on Church Street, which the article claims never submitted a water test, had a lead level of 13 parts per billion on March 16, prior to the pipe being replaced on April 6,” added McDaniel.
The article also implies the majority of the homes selected for the pipe replacements in the pilot study were not in the “high risk” categories set forth by Mayor Weaver which are homes with high lead levels, seniors, pregnant women, and/or children under the age of six. Selection of the homes was a collaborative effort between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Rowe Engineering, U of M-Flint and the City.
“Some privacy laws prevented us from accessing data to confirm areas with pregnant mothers, so we relied on 2014 census records for information on neighborhoods with young children and senior citizens,” stated McDaniel.
Overall, McDaniel feels the state’s pilot study with Rowe Engineering, which cost around $250,000, was productive and will provide useful information that will be applied as the effort continues to replace lead tainted pipes in the City of Flint.
“This was truly a pilot study to find out what pipes were around the city and what the construction of the pipes were,” said McDaniel. “Homes were selected in every area in Flint. If we couldn’t get permission from a homeowner to do the work, we went to the next house on the list. According to our test results, an overwhelming majority of the homes where pipes were replaced showed a significant decrease in lead levels in the water, that is what’s important.”
“We have no intention of responding to every media report we disagree with,” Mayor Weaver added. “But, it would be doing the public a disservice to know they are getting bad information and we not take time to address it.”