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lead service lines

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - A report obtained by a newspaper says replacing water pipes due to the lead-tainted crisis in Flint could be at least twice the price of previous estimates.

The Detroit Free Press reports  that engineering company Rowe Professional Services told the state that the average cost for replacing a service water line through a completed pilot project was $7,500.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality previously estimated it would cost $4,000, but the company's report said costs could be higher if average permit fees of $2,400 per site are included.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor is moving forward with the next phase of the city’s lead service line removal program.

Damaged service lines are suspected of being a prime source for lead in Flint’s drinking water. But to date, only 33 lead service lines have been removed from Flint homes.  

However, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says the city is starting the process of hiring contractors to replace hundreds more. She says the requests for proposals will be posted tomorrow.  

Weaver expects the next round of her Fast Start program will begin in about a month.

Lead pipes
Mitch Barrie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Governor Rick Snyder is backing tougher standards for lead in drinking water. Cities are still figuring out what any proposed changes to drinking water regulations would mean for them.

If lawmakers were to enact the changes, it would make Michigan’s standard the toughest in the country.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Because of the Flint water crisis, the U.S. EPA wants more transparency about where the nation’s lead lines are. Specifically, the EPA wants to know how many lead service lines there still are underground, and they want to know exactly where they are. As we reported Tuesday, many Michigan cities do not know this basic information, it’s not just Flint.

The EPA also wants water systems to post the results from water tests to prove cities are in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

This week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave the feds an update on these requests.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

By the end of the week, the city of Flint expects to finish removing water service lines from 30 homes.   The service lines are believed to be the source of high lead levels in the drinking water.

The city has been paying for the pipe removal with a $2 million reimbursement from the state.

The city’s original goal was to replace 30 lead service lines by the end of last month, but bad weather hampered progress.   

Michigan Radio

Because of Flint’s water crisis, regulators are asking water systems to answer a couple of seemingly basic questions: Where are Michigan’s lead water pipes? How many are left in the ground?

We’ve found the answers are hard to come by.

Lead leaches into drinking water from old lead service lines or lead solder, and from some plumbing in people’s home. A service line is the pipe that takes drinking water from the water main under the road into your home.

Nowadays, those lines are usually made of copper, sometimes plastic. But back before the 1950s, lead was pretty common.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The Genesee County Clerk is worried that uncertainty about lead service lines in Flint will hurt property values in the future.

The Genesee County clerk’s office has deed records going back to the 1700’s. 

Because of Flint’s water crisis, Clerk John Gleason wants to add some information to future deeds.

He’s proposing adding a note on when lead service lines were replaced.

“We think it’s critical,” says Gleason. “We think it helps stabilize property values. That will stabilize the funding of police and fire departments through property taxes.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint plans to start digging up lead service lines tomorrow. But today, a contractor paid by a private group got to work doing the same thing on the city’s north side.

Brittani Felton watched from her driveway as workers dug a deep trench in front of her home on Flint’s Alma Avenue. At the bottom of the muddy hole lay the service line connecting Felton’s home to the city water main.

She’s had her water tested, but the results aren’t back yet. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is a step closer to getting money from the state to replace lead service lines.

Governor Snyder says the state has approved a grant request from the city.

“That frees up $2 million that could be … several hundred lead service line replacements,” says Snyder.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says this is a “positive step.”

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, says she doesn’t want to waste any time getting rid of the city’s old lead service lines.

It’s those lines – which bring water from the main to Flint houses – that have caused so much trouble in the city. Flint did not treat the water from the Flint River properly. That meant it ate away at those pipes and contaminated the water in many homes with lead.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor and others want to replace all the lead service lines in the city. Besides the cost, there’s been one huge hurdle: Flint doesn’t know where its lead service lines are.

Kate Wells/Michigan Radio

Flint will start replacing lead service lines connected to homes with pregnant women or kids under the age of six.

That’s according to Mayor Karen Weaver, who said those are the “highest risk” homes in the city.

But she isn’t saying how many homes that will be, or how much it’ll cost. That could be because the city doesn’t really know yet.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A team of people at University of Michigan’s Flint campus is almost done converting old, paper records into digital records that show which homes have lead service lines. The team has been working on it for a couple of weeks now, and should have the information by the end of this week.

State and federal officials have been after the information because they need it to help determine when Flint’s water will be safe to drink again.

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