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Flint ramps up Fast Start phase 4 to replace lead tainted pipes

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
"Most city residents with lead tainted service lines are eager to having them replaced," says Flint Mayor Karen Weaver (right), Fast Start coordinator Mike McDaniel listens

Now that a judge has approved a legal settlement to replace lead pipes in Flint, the city is acting quickly to get the process moving.

Tuesday, U.S. District Judge David Lawson signed off on the deal under which the state of Michigan will set aside $97 million to pay for replacing 18,000 lead and galvanized service lines during the next three years. 

Last year, Flint removed nearly 800 lead and galvanized steel service lines. This year, the plan is to replace 6,000.         

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says city residents are ready.

“I know most city residents with lead tainted service lines are eager to having them replaced.  We all are,” Weaver told reporters today.

However, before the lines can be replaced, homeowners and residents must sign consent forms.  

Mike McDaniel is coordinating the pipe replacement program. He admits there have been issues with getting some people to agree to let the city do the work.

“I think there is a certain fatigue,” says McDaniel, after a year of crisis, “Sometimes there may be an innate distrust.  That we have to overcome and we’ve been working through those issues.”

This week, work crews and AARP volunteers are knocking on doors in ten Flint neighborhoods to ask homeowners and residents to let them dig up their lawns and replace lead and galvanized steel pipes, which may be leeching lead particles into their drinking water. 

In 2015, about 20% of the homes eyed by replacement crews had copper pipes.  Poor record keeping over the course of decades often forces city crews to partially excavate sites to determine if homes indeed have pipes that need to be replaced.  

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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