Michigan, Flint to replace 18000 lead-tainted water lines

29 March, 2017, 01:44 | Author: Celia Hoffman

MI will allocate $87 million for the city of Flint to identify and replace at least 18,000 unsafe water lines by 2020 under a proposed settlement of a federal lawsuit that also provides the state with a road map to end free distribution of bottled water.

Before leaving the White House, President Obama and the US Senate approved a $170 million bill granting funds to aid Flint and replace corrosive pipes. That's a total of $97 million the state is committing - equal to nearly all of the $100 million in funds set aside for Flint earlier this month by the Environmental Protection Agency under legislation signed in December by President Barack Obama. Unlike Detroit's, the Flint system didn't use chemicals to inhibit materials in the water that accelerate corrosion in lead and iron pipework - potentially exposing the city's 100,000 residents to lead and other contaminants. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures.

The process so far has been unbearably slow, so here's hoping this is the first of many steps to clean water for the residents of Flint.

In the meantime, Flint's nine Community Water Resources Sites will still be open to distribute bottled water and free filters, filter cartridges, and water testing kits.

An independent investigation by Virginia Tech revealed that the lead levels in the homes of Flint residents as high as 13,200 parts per billion (5,000 parts per million is considered "hazardous waste" by the EPA).

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The deal marked a major agreement to replace piping that played a significant role in the Flint water crisis that prompted dozens of lawsuits and criminal charges against former government officials.

On Tuesday, federal Judge David Lawson will listen to lawyers representing Flint, the state and residents who sued. "It provides a comprehensive framework to address lead in Flint tap water and covers a number of critical issues related to water safety". The city returned to Detroit water in 2015, but risks remained because of damage to the water infrastructure. In January 2016, the governor declared a state of emergency, one month after the city's mayor did.

The proposed settlement calls for the state to spend another $47 million to replace lead pipes and provide free bottled water.

In February, officials said that since March, they had replaced service lines at just 780 homes.

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