AARP Volunteers Will Mail or Bring Consent Cards to Residents’ Homes
FLINT, Mich. ― Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that residents at hundreds of Flint homes will begin seeing their lead-tainted service lines replaced this spring as part of her efforts to reach 6,000 homes in 2017 through her FAST Start pipe replacement initiative.
Since the start of her FAST Start initiative a year ago, 960 homes have had their service lines inspected by work crews. At 785 of those homes, crews have replaced lead or galvanized service lines leading from the water main to the homes’ water meters. Copper service lines leading to 175 homes were not replaced.
A federal judge on Tuesday signed off on a settlement that will guarantee that the City of Flint gets the state and federal funds it needs to inspect and replace the remaining lead-tainted service lines leading to residents’ homes over the next three years. The settlement also includes requirements that bottled water and filters continue to be available to help Flint address the unprecedented drinking water crisis that allowed lead-tainted water to flow to residents’ homes.
“This agreement assures us that the city will receive the additional funds needed to make good on my promise to replace all the lead-tainted service lines and get the lead out of Flint,” Mayor Weaver said. “We’re eager to launch this next phase of my FAST Start initiative, and extremely pleased that the work will be done by area contractors.”
It’s estimated that up to 20,000 Flint residences still have lead and galvanized service lines that need to be replaced. To be eligible to have their service lines replaced, residents must have an active water account. They also must have signed a consent card giving permission for the work to be done. In rental homes, both the owner and the tenant must sign consent cards.
AARP volunteers soon will begin mailing consent forms to be signed while also going door-to-door to provide the consent cards and answer residents’ questions.
“Our volunteers are eager to assist in Mayor Weaver’s efforts to get the lead out of Flint,” said AARP State Director Paula Cunningham. “Residents of the homes we visited last year were very cordial to our volunteers, and we expect this year’s effort to mail consent forms and/or visit an even greater number of homes will go well.”
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 areas of the city that are most likely to have lead service lines, and where a significant number of young children or seniors live. Two crews will work in each of 10 zones around the city to replace the service lines in 2017.
“We have a lot more work crews this year, so the pace of service line replacements will be much faster and progress should be more noticeable than in the past,” he said. “We plan to have every lead-tainted service line in the city replaced by the end of 2019.”
Companies awarded city contracts to do the work are Goyette Mechanical Co., W.T. Stevens Construction Inc., Lang Constructors Inc., and Waldorf and Sons Inc. The first three are headquartered in Flint, while Waldorf is located in nearby Mt. Morris.
The Copper Development Association (CDA) has helped the City of Flint acquire nearly 200,000 feet of copper piping for this phase of the FAST Start program. The copper industry’s assistance will save the city and state potentially $1 million.
Flint residents also can expect to see Hydrovac trucks in some neighborhoods starting this spring to help the City determine which homes have lead and galvanized 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 are getting new service lines must flush their water for 15 minutes before the pipe replacement takes place and for at least 15 minutes after the pipes are replaced 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.
More information about the FAST Start program will be available on the initiative’s new social media accounts. Information and photos will be posted on a City of Flint FAST Start Facebook page, as well as on Instagram and Twitter. Questions about FAST Start can be directed to the FAST Start office by emailing [email protected] or by calling (810) 410-1133 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
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.