FLINT, Mich. — The City of Flint is accepting bids to replace lead-tainted service lines leading to 6,000 homes in 2017, allowing Mayor Karen Weaver to vastly increase the number of pipe replacements under her FAST Start initiative.
The initiative, which Mayor Weaver announced last February, has so far resulted in 900 homes getting their service lines inspected by work crews. Crews have replaced lead or galvanized steel service lines leading from the water main to the water meter at 780 of those homes. Copper service lines discovered at 120 homes were not replaced.
Pipe replacement crews continue to work toward Mayor Weaver’s goal of reaching 1,000 homes before the next phase (Phase IV) of the FAST Start initiative begins in March. Goyette Mechanical Inc. is close to finishing its portion of the work. W.T. Stevens Construction Co. Inc. plans to continue replacing pipes as long as the winter weather allows.
The substantial expansion of the FAST Start initiative to 6,000 homes comes after Congress approved federal funds aimed at helping Flint address an unprecedented crisis caused when the city’s drinking water was poisoned with lead.
“I’m excited that we finally are getting the necessary funds to ramp up my FAST Start initiative this year,” Mayor Weaver said. “Now that we can replace 6,000 lead-tainted pipes a year, we should be able to make serious progress toward my goal of getting all the lead out of Flint.”
Retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, who’s coordinating the FAST Start initiative, said he’ll continue to concentrate pipe replacement work in 2017 in areas of the city that are most likely to have lead service lines, and where a significant number of young children or seniors live.
“It’s great news that so many more homes will get their service lines replaced this year,” McDaniel said. “Residents in many areas of the city can expect to see crews at their homes starting this spring, and we hope the City of Flint continues to receive the funding needed to replace all lead-tainted service lines in the coming years.”
It’s estimated that around 20,000 Flint residences — and possibly as many as 28,000 — still have lead or galvanized steel service lines that need to be replaced. Residents must have an active water account to be eligible for service line replacement.
The request for proposals posted by the City of Flint calls for two crews to work in each of 10 zones around the city to replace service lines in 2017. Contractors can bid to work in one zone, or in several of them. City officials are expected to assess the bids and award contracts in time for crews to start the 2017 phase of FAST Start by mid- to late March.
Flint residents can also expect to see Hydrovac trucks in some neighborhoods this spring which will be used to help workers determine which homes have lead and galvanized steel service lines. The hydro-excavation trucks use pressurized water and an industrial-strength vacuum to dig two small holes near the water curb box down to the service line, allowing crews to identify what the service line is made of and whether it needs to be replaced. The holes are backfilled and the sod is restored once the service line is checked.
Residents whose homes receive new service lines must flush their water for 15 minutes before the pipe replacement takes place and for at least 15 minutes after the new pipes are installed to remove sediment from their lines. Filters should be turned off and aerators removed while the pipe flushing takes place, and all water lines in the home should be flushed, McDaniel said.
As part of an ongoing study funded by the National Institute of Health, Wayne State University students will continue to test the water in some homes before and after the pipes are replaced. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality also may do some water testing. Residents must give separate permission for the water testing to be done.
Mayor Weaver launched her FAST Start initiative to help resolve a number of problems created after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the City’s water source to the Flint River in 2014 without the necessary corrosion control chemicals being added. The corrosive water removed a protective coating on the inside of the pipes, causing lead to leach into the water flowing to homes and businesses in the City of Flint.
While the level of lead in Flint’s water supply has been significantly reduced since the city switched back to water delivered from Lake Huron by the Great Lakes Water Authority, residents still are being urged to drink only filtered water, and to replace their filters when needed.
A mandatory pre-proposal meeting will be held on Monday, January 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at Flint City Hall in Council Chambers.
Firms interested in providing the requested services must submit proposals to the City of Flint, Department of Purchases and Supplies by Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.