City of Flint updates residents on secondary water line construction

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FLINT, Michigan— The City of Flint has completed construction of a secondary water pipeline in preparation to connect to the Genesee County Drain Commission as the City’s secondary water pipeline system. Repair work must also be completed on the City of Flint’s primary water pipeline system. 

Mayor Neeley announced in April that the City of Flint expected to complete three major infrastructure projects this year, that included the secondary water pipeline connection to the City’s water source Lake Huron. This infrastructure project ensures the City of Flint has a secondary water delivery system in case there is an emergency disruption to the primary water delivery system.

“We are making great progress toward building a stronger and safer infrastructure of the City’s water system,” said Mayor Sheldon Neeley. “This secondary water pipeline project provides the city with two water delivery systems guaranteeing that Flint will never use Flint River water again.”

This work is all critically important infrastructure improvements mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

“It is vital that we continue to upgrade the city’s water infrastructure. This project is a closely monitored water pipeline connection that has had years of preparation,” said Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, a medical doctor and advisor to the City of Flint. “This is a needed process to ensure a constant supply of safe, clean water for Flint residents.”

Officials from the City of Flint Department of Public Works, EGLE and EPA are currently reviewing the system to determine when the connection and repair work can take place. Flint residents will be notified of the connection date. This phase of the project includes the following:

Incremental increase to use the secondary water delivery system

Estimated Completion: 6 – 8 weeks

Work includes:

  1. Connect the secondary water pipeline to GCDC and have a 5% flow of water in combination (blending) with the current water that flows from the Great Lakes Water Authority. During combination/blending, additional water quality monitoring will take place.
  2. The 5% of water that will flow from GCDC during the connection will increase in increments of 25% until 100% is reached with testing and monitoring along the way to ensure water quality. This increment increase is needed to facilitate the system upgrades, quality assurance and monitoring necessary to create a safe, ongoing connection to the backup water system. 
  3. During the connection and blending of water, safeguard will be in place to initiate a full return to water from the current GLWA line within 24 hours in the event of an unanticipated water quality issue.

Improvements to primary water delivery system 

Estimated Completion 6 – 8 weeks

Work includes

  1. Valve replacement work will begin once 100% of the water is flowing through the secondary water pipeline connected to the GCDC delivery system. The valve repair work also includes automating and modernizing the primary water pipeline system equipment.
  2. When the valve repair work is complete, Flint’s water will once again flow from the primary water pipeline connection to GLWA.
  3. To keep the water, pipes, valves and other hardware in the secondary pipeline fresh and ready to use in an emergency, about 5% of Flint’s water will continually flow through that pipeline.

Once this project is complete, the City of Flint will have a primary and secondary water pipeline connecting to Lake Huron. 

Additional monitoring also will take place when the secondary water pipeline is connected and during other major infrastructure projects. Monitoring results are posted on the EPA’s “Taking Action on Flint Water” website at www.michigan.gov/flintwater.

Flint water quality has tested far below federal action levels for lead since 2016, reaching a five-year milestone of meeting drinking water standards for lead in July 2021. 

Facts regarding the secondary water pipeline connection

• Flint is the only large city in Michigan without a secondary (backup) water pipeline connection. Establishing a secondary water pipeline was required under the emergency order issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 as well as the State of Michigan Safe Water Drinking Act and the City’s agreement with its primary water supplier, the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). 

• Flint’s primary water delivery system is provided by Detroit, which is now known as the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). The secondary water delivery system is provided by the Genesee County Drain Commission (GCDC). 

• Water from the Genesee County Drain Commission will undergo the same treatment process as the current line, and be subject to regular testing and increased monitoring to ensure it meets all quality standards. 

• The Genesee County Drain Commission supplies water to virtually every other community in Genesee County as its primary water supply. It operates a new (2017) water treatment plant that uses the same water treatment technology as Detroit.

• This water infrastructure improvement is part of a larger water system upgrade that includes lead service line replacement, a new chemical feed building, water meter replacements, and renovations to the Cedar and Dort Reservoirs.

Mayor Neeley will continue to provide weekly community updates on WFLT and Facebook on Saturdays. He also is hosting Ward by Ward tours throughout the community updating residents on a variety of topics including the current water infrastructure projects. Informational meetings and open public comment will also continue to be scheduled for ongoing and future water infrastructure projects. 

Infrastructure project updates can also be found on the City of Flint’s “Progress Report on Flint Water” webpage at www.cityofflint.com/progressreport.

Important reminder for residents: If you have a water emergency or issue with your service, please call (810) 766-7202 for water and (810) 766-7079 for sewer. This line is monitored 24 hours a day to respond to problems. 

Residents with non-emergency questions or concerns can email [email protected] This email is monitored by the DPW department and they are happy to assist. 

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