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State lawmaker wants Flint to take free plastic pipes offer to replace service lines

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
So far, the city of Flint has replaced 33 service lines with copper pipes

Flint continues to struggle to replace damaged pipes.    

Mayor Karen Weaver said bids from contractors to replace up to 500 service lines came in “extremely high”. 

But there is an offer on the table that could potentially present the city with a big savings.

Walter Wang is the owner of JM Eagle, a California company that produces plastic pipes.  Back in February, Wang offered to give the city enough plastic PVC pipe to replace thousands of damaged lead service lines for free.

But to date, Flint officials have not accepted Wang’s offer.

Now, a state lawmaker is complaining city officials are not taking advantage of the California businessman’s offer.

“This is a generous offer that will save millions of dollars – taxpayer dollars from across the state – and provides the city with safe, clean water for decades to come,” says State Rep. Joseph Graves(R-Argentine Township), “I don’t understand why Mayor Weaver has not accepted the gift.”

Graves points to the city of Burton that has used plastic pipes for service lines for years. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city is still investigating to see if the plastic pipes will hold up as well as copper pipes.

“Engineers we consulted raised concerns about the lifespan of the plastic pipes due to the harsh weather conditions we experience in Michigan,” says Weaver. “We are doing additional research on the difference between copper pipes and the pipes made of plastic.”

Weaver says the city is committed to using “the most safe, durable and cost-effective” pipes.

The city plans on using copper pipes during the next phase of the Mayor’s Fast Start pipe replacement program.

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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