Flint — Residents learned Tuesday night that the problem of lead pipe replacement in the city “is even bigger than we thought,” said the person coordinating the effort.

Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel shared initial findings of the $55 million pilot program, the Fast Start plan, to replace about 15,000 service lines in the city.

“I have a number of concerns; the first is how are we going to pay for it because the problem is even bigger than we thought,” he said during a town hall meeting at Metropolitan Baptist Church on Tuesday.

The study found many homes with galvanized pipes and lead city service lines, he said.

“It’s the worst combination, because first you’ve got a city line and it’s lead and it’s been contaminating the water for years,” he said. “Then on the residential side you have galvanized.”

The galvanized pipe will “suck up the lead that is coming off the lead pipe,” he said.

McDaniel said “instead of the inside being smooth like a putting green, it’s like the surface of the moon in there” when pipes become corroded.

“(In) all those nooks and crannies, lead can gather,” he said.

An estimated 15,000 lines need to be replaced, he said.

McDaniels said he would like the detection and removal of lines to be coordinated across the city.

“I’m just worried we’ll be paying for repetition and I hate to do that.”

Part of the $2 million for initial removal of service lines in the city is to get a better record of what kinds of residential lines removal crews will encounter, once the Fast Start program expands across the city.

Residents weighed in on their frustration at the slow pace of fixes in the second year of the crisis, including water bill credits; they also described what they called a lack of response by Congress and the state after the issues of lead contamination emerged.

Mark Durno, coordinator for the EPA, said he anticipated the water system in Flint to be “further along by now.”

The city is utilizing a $300,000 Drinking Water Revolving fund to flush 600 gallons of water a day over what residents are using. The three-step process includes running cold water in the bathroom, kitchen and other sinks in the home for at least 5 minutes for 14 days.

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