Work to Replace 6,000 Lead-Tainted Service Lines to Begin Next Week
AARP Volunteers to Bring Consent Cards to Residents’ Homes Starting Saturday
FLINT, Mich. ― Mayor Karen Weaver announced today that dozens of Flint residents will have their water service lines replaced next week as crews begin working to replace lead-tainted pipes leading to 6,000 homes during the 2017 phase of her FAST Start replacement initiative.
It’s estimated up to 20,000 Flint residences still have lead and galvanized service lines that need to be replaced. The pipe replacement work is expected to be completed by 2020.
To be eligible to have their service lines replaced, residents must have an active water account. They also must have signed a consent card giving permission for the work to be done. In rental homes, both the owner and the tenant must sign consent cards.
AARP volunteers have begun mailing consent forms to be signed. On Saturday, the volunteers will be going door-to-door to provide the consent cards and answer residents’ questions.
“We’ve replaced service lines at more than 850 homes since my FAST Start initiative began last year. This year our goal is 6,000 homes,” Mayor Weaver said. “With more work crews in the field starting next week, service lines to 900 homes will be replaced each month, so we’ll really start making progress.”
AARP State Director Paula Cunningham said the volunteers are eager to assist in Mayor Weaver’s efforts to get the lead out of Flint.
“Last fall, AARP volunteers visited more than 500 homes to collect consent cards,” Cunningham said. “This weekend, we’ll be picking up where we let off, with plans to knock on doors or reach residents by mail at 6,000 homes through May and June.”
State lawmakers on Thursday approved sending $100 million to Flint in federal funds allocated in December by Congress to fix the damaged water system. Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign the bill. The action came after a federal judge in March signed off on a settlement that will guarantee that the City gets the state and federal funds it needs to inspect and replace the remaining lead-tainted service lines leading to residents’ homes over the next three years. The settlement also includes requirements that bottled water and filters continue to be available to help Flint address the unprecedented water crisis that allowed lead-tainted water to flow to residents’ homes.
Companies awarded city contracts to do the work are Goyette Mechanical Co., W.T. Stevens Construction Inc., Lang Constructors Inc., and Waldorf and Sons Inc. The first three are headquartered in Flint, while Waldorf is located in nearby Mt. Morris.
Retired National Guard Brigadier General Michael C.H. McDaniel, who’s coordinating the FAST Start initiative, said he’ll continue to concentrate pipe replacement work in areas of the city that are most likely to have lead service lines, and where a significant number of young children or seniors live. Two crews will work in each of 10 zones around the city to replace the service lines in 2017.
“The pace of service line replacements will be much faster,” he said. “Residents in affected neighborhoods will see FAST Start yard signs going up when crews are coming to their neighborhoods, and can get more information on the City of Flint FAST Start Facebook page, and FAST Start’s Twitter and Instagram accounts.”
Flint residents also can expect to see Hydrovac trucks in some neighborhoods starting in mid-May. The hydro-excavation trucks use pressurized water and an industrial-strength vacuum to dig two small holes near the water curb box down to the service line, allowing crews to identify what the service line is made of and whether it needs to be replaced. The holes are backfilled and the sod is restored once the service line is checked. Service lines at around 2,000 homes will be checked this way in coming months so crews will know which homes already have copper service lines. Crews will leave a door hanger at homes whose lines have been checked.
Residents whose homes are getting new service lines must flush their water for 15 minutes before the pipe replacement takes place and for at least 15 minutes after the pipes are replaced to remove sediment from their lines. Filters should be turned off and aerators removed while the pipe flushing takes place, and all water lines in the home should be flushed, McDaniel said.
Areas where the street has not been fixed after pipe replacements are now being restored by City of Flint crews and private contractors, he added.
Mayor Weaver launched her FAST Start initiative to help resolve a number of problems created after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the City’s water source to the Flint River in 2014 without the necessary corrosion control chemicals being added. The corrosive water removed a protective coating on the inside of the pipes, causing lead to leach into the water flowing to homes and businesses in the City of Flint.
While the level of lead in Flint’s water supply has been significantly reduced since the city switched back to water delivered from Lake Huron by the Great Lakes Water Authority, residents still are being urged to drink only filtered water, and to replace their filters when needed.
For more information and updates on the work, visit the City of Flint FAST Start Facebook page, as well as on Instagram and Twitter. Questions about FAST Start can be directed to the FAST Start office by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (810) 410-1133.