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Red marks the spot where suspected lead water lines are in Flint

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The city of Flint has a better picture of where all its aging lead water service lines are.  But that picture is still incomplete.

Service lines connect city water mains to homes and businesses.  

The city’s failure to properly treat water pumped from the Flint River over an 18 month period damaged many pipes.  As a result, some have been leaching lead into the city’s drinking water.  

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Dr. Marty Kaufman, a professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, has spent weeks pouring through old water department records trying to determine where lead service lines may be in Flint

Marty Kaufman is a professor at the University of Michigan-Flint.    He’s been plowing through the water department’s files trying to determine which service lines contain lead.   It hasn’t been easy.

“In fact, there’s no record of the type of pipes used in approximately 13,000 of the city’s 56,000 homes and businesses,” says Kaufman. “About 11,000 of those with no data are residential properties.”

Still, Kaufman estimates there could be 8,000 lead lines the city might want to replace.   That number is significantly lower than the 15,000 often talked about early in Flint’s drinking water crisis.

But lower estimate or not, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver’s goal remains the same.

“I won’t rest until every lead service line is removed. The people of Flint deserve no less,” says Weaver.

Weaver hopes to start that process this week.   Officials with the Lansing Board of Water & Light will instruct city workers on how best to remove lead lines.    The city is getting $2 million for that effort.

However, Weaver wants more.

“I am renewing my request for the state legislature to move quickly on Gov. Snyder’s recommendation for $25 million to be allocated this year for lead service lines,” says Weaver.

Weaver pegs the ultimate cost of replacing Flint’s lead service lines at $55 million.   

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.
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