FLINT, Michigan–The City of Flint filed notice today that it has temporarily suspended work on the service line replacement program to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Because work crews go door-to-door, work in close proximity to each other, and must have face-to-face contact with residents, the project creates an ideal environment for the spread of coronavirus.
Delaying work is necessary because residents may be — and should be — reluctant to let anyone in their home.
Under the Fast Start program, the service line replacement project was scheduled to be completed by Dec. 31, 2019, but fell behind under the previous administration. The City of Flint worked with its crew of contractors to overcome that failure to meet the previous deadline and was poised to complete the project quickly when spring weather arrived. Both the City of Flint and attorneys representing the Concerned Pastors previously had agreed in principle to a deadline of June 30 for completion of the project.
If the City had continued to push toward completion, it would have required an April deadline for residents to opt-in to the program.
“It is unreasonable, unrealistic and unfair to expect residents to participate in the service line replacement program at this time,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said. “We will get this job done and we will finish it as quickly as possible after shelter-in-place orders have lifted.”
A new timeline for the project will be set after it is determined that it can continue without undue risk of spreading coronavirus.
As of March 20, 2020, the service line replacement project was approximately 85 percent complete. Pipes have been excavated at 25,409 homes and replaced at 9,554 locations where lead or galvanized steel service lines were present.
The city’s water meter replacement program, which also required workers to enter residents’ homes, also is on hold until further notice.
All emergency services (even those that require workers to go into residents’ homes) will continue with additional safety precautions. These emergency services include service line repairs as well as reconnections to ensure all households have access to running water to help fight the spread of COVID-19.
Road work and similar construction that does not require workers go into residents’ homes will continue.