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Samples of various drinking water pipes.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Flint’s problem water pipe records are forcing the city to rely more on a special tool to determine if homes are using lead or copper service lines.

Digging a hole with a backhoe to see if the pipe connecting homes to city water mains is slow and expensive. It's not something a city like Flint, which is replacing thousands of suspect service lines, has time or money to do.