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Flint properties left damaged by lead pipe replacement to get help from the state

(file photo)
Steve Carmody
Michigan Public
(file photo)

The state of Michigan is offering to finish the job of repairing Flint yards torn up by the city’s lead pipe replacement project.

During the past decade, the city of Flint has replaced more than 10,000 lead service lines connecting homes to city water mains. The pipes were a primary source of lead in Flint’s drinking water. Another 19,000 of additional service lines were checked, but did not contain lead.

But the work often left unsightly scars across the city.

In a motion filed in federal court this week, the state of Michigan said it plans to take over the remaining work on Flint’s lead pipe replacement program and will commit additional funding to complete the job.

“Every Flint resident with a broken sidewalk or driveway from the city’s pipe replacement program must finally get their properties restored,” said Sarah Tallman, a senior attorney with Natural Resources Defense Council, “Michigan’s commitment to finish the job in Flint is a hopeful development.”

There remain about 1,900 homes that require repairs to fix damaged lawns, sidewalks, driveways, and curbs. The state estimates that the work will cost more than $4.75 million.

According to the city of Flint, out of $97 million in state funding allocated to Flint’s lead service line excavation, replacement, and restoration, all but roughly $1.1 to $1.2 million has been expended.

"We are grateful for the State of Michigan’s partnership as we work to fulfill the City of Flint’s commitments to Flint residents,” said Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley.

Flint activists who have long campaigned to have lead pipes removed and properties restored are welcoming the state’s commitment.

“Let’s finish the work quickly so Flint residents can begin to heal from a water crisis and government failures that have lasted a decade,” said Melissa Mays, one of the plaintiffs in the case and operations manager of Flint Rising. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.