August 19, 2016 (Flint, Mich)– Mayor Karen Weaver today kicked off the second phase of her FAST Start initiative by announcing the neighborhoods where work will begin to replace 200-250 more lead-tainted service lines over the next month.
Starting today, contractors will be in those neighborhoods seeking permission from homeowners to replace the service lines to their homes, with pipe replacements beginning soon thereafter. As part of a study funded by the National Institute of Health, Wayne State University students will be testing the water in homes before and after the pipes are replaced.
“I’m excited that we’re beginning the next phase in my FAST Start initiative to get the lead out of Flint,” Mayor Weaver said. “With what we learn in this next phase, we should be able to get started on replacing lead-tainted pipes in 5,000 homes this fall.”
This portion of the FAST Start initiative is being paid for with $2 million from the State of Michigan to cover Flint’s share of the cost of returning to the Detroit drinking water system after it was discovered that improperly treated water from the Flint River was corroding pipes and releasing lead into Flint’s drinking water system. The state of Michigan has appropriated $25 million to be used to start the next phase of the pipe removal program once this phase is complete.
Crews employed by Goyette Mechanical Inc., Johnson & Wood, and W.T. Stevens Construction Inc. will be doing the work. Service lines will be replaced from the water main to a home’s water meter if they’re found to be lead or galvanized steel, which has been found to collect lead particles from the water supply. Goyette and W.T. Stevens are Flint companies, and Johnson & Wood is located in Burton. One of Mayor Weaver’s main goals was to make sure that Flint workers were going to get a role in the pipe replacement program.
Wayne State University Associate Professor Shawn McElmurry, who’s overseeing the study funded by the National Institute of Health, said WSU students will visit homes whose pipes are due to be replaced to take water samples before the work is done, then return in week after to test the water again. They will be carrying identification that lets residents know they are collecting samples for Wayne State. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality also may be doing some water testing.
“This testing will help residents learn if their water becomes safer to use after their service lines are replaced,” McElmurry said. “We’ll also be getting sections of the replaced pipe from the contractors to study to see if the pipes what state they’re in.”
Pipe replacement and water testing will be done only where residents give permission. Service lines will not be replaced at vacant homes.
Mayor Weaver was joined at today’s press conference by retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, who’s coordinating the FAST Start activities between the City of Flint, state and federal departments and agencies, and other stakeholders.
“We’re eager to get started on this next phase and provide even more residents with safer water,” McDaniel said. Service lines at 33 homes were replaced during the first phase of the FAST Start initiative.
FAST Start is just the first step in an overall vision to restore Flint’s infrastructure to be safe and sustainable for future generations, and is only part of the effort needed to heal and renew the community.