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Flint's pipe replacement program moving into new phase

Mar 23, 2017

Weather permitting, Flint officials hope to start the next round of lead service line replacements by mid-April.

Tonight the Flint city council approved contracts to remove up to 6,000 pipes connecting Flint homes to city water mains. The pipes are a primary source of lead in the city’s tap water. 

Replacing the service lines became a priority in the wake of the city’s lead-tainted tap water crisis. But issues with funding, logistics and contractors slowed the process. The city replaced just under 1,000 service lines last year. 

Michael McDaniel is heading up the city’s ‘fast start’ program. He says this year contractors will be replacing service lines in ten different zones in the city.

“It’s a very ambitious program,” says McDaniel, “They have to do four and half homes per day ... for each zone.”

Even at McDaniel’s “ambitious” pace, it will still take at least three years to replace all the city’s lead and galvanized service lines.

There are still a few hurdles to cross before contractors can put shovels in the ground.

The Receivership Transition Advisory Board, the state-appointed panel overseeing Flint’s finances, has to approve the contracts. The panel meets Monday. After that, the city will have to sit down with the contractors. 

The $30 million-plus to pay the contractors is coming the state and federal governments.