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Flint extends deadline to replace lead pipes by September 2022

The city of Flint has extended the deadline to finish identifying and replacing the remaining lead water pipes by September 2022.
Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 12:02 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WNEM) - The city of Flint has extended the deadline to finish identifying and replacing the remaining lead water pipes by September 2022, in an agreement approved by the city council.

About 1,900 homes still need pipe replacement work under the agreement, and thousands of homes are waiting on lawn restoration.

“While it is frustrating that it has taken so long to get the lead and galvanized steel service lines out of the ground in Flint, it is important that we make sure everything is done properly, safely, and that no home is left behind. Removing lead service lines is a crucial step in replacing Flint’s damaged infrastructure and getting us one step closer to a recovery,” said Melissa Mays, one of the plaintiffs in the federal drinking water case and Operations Manager of Flint Rising.

Flint’s lead service line removal program was established by a 2017 court order in a landmark citizen suit to address the contamination of the city’s drinking water. The deadline extension agreement must be approved by the federal court.

Flint has excavated 26,886 pipes to determine if they are lead, and 10,088 pipes have been replaced. Out of the estimated 1,900 homes that still need pipe replacement work under the agreement, about 1,400 have not yet received the required outreach from the city, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mays is not happy that lead pipes in the city of Flint are still an issue. She is happy that residents now have until Sept. 30 of this year to authorize the city to come to their properties to see if their homes have lead pipes.

“We’ve been back and forth into court many times, you know, but the whole goal is to make sure that all of the lead is removed,” Mays said.

The city was expected to complete the lead service line removal project by November 2020 but according to Mays, miscommunication is one of many reasons for delays.

“People thought that they had to have a zero-water balance on their water bill. People thought that the their lawns wouldn’t get fixed because the information was not put out clearly//there was a lot of back and forth politics, things that shouldn’t get in the way of public health,” Mays said.

The NRDC said 400 residents are currently waiting for pipes to be replaced. For Mays, there is only one important thing to take away from the extension.

“I’m glad that we’re not you know, shutting down early that the city and state are not going to shut down early and that we’re not going to leave any lead lines behind,” Mays said.