Flint enters final stage of program removing lead water service lines

The Detroit News

Flint officials are setting a final deadline of July 23 for residents to get their lead pipes replaced for free as a court-ordered program nears its end.

A 2017 court order prompted by a lawsuit sparked the creation of the pipe replacement program that followed the Flint water crisis. The city's drinking water was contaminated with lead after the infamous water switch to the Flint River by the state-appointed  emergency manager who controlled the city government.

Flint is the final stages of replacing lead water service lines for free under a court-ordered program.

That action and the lack of treatment of the corrosive water caused lead to leach into the drinking water system. It led to criminal charges that were filed and now refiled under a new state attorney general and prosecuting team against former state and Flint officials, including former Gov. Rick Snyder.

To date, at least 10,000 lead pipes have been replaced with more than 27,000 pipes that have been examined to see if they were lead.

"Flint’s brave residents have set in motion a fight for the right to safe drinking water that is so righteous and powerful, President Biden is proposing to remove every lead water pipe in America through the American Jobs Plan," said Erik Olson, senior strategic director for health at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"Flint’s action to replace the vast majority of its lead water pipes within four years could help pave the way to a national requirement to replace the millions of lead pipes across the country within in the next decade."

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit agreed in a statement provided by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“The people of Flint changed this country, making it clear that no one should be poisoned by lead in the drinking water coming out of their kitchen sink,” said Melissa Mays, operations manager of the group Flint Rising. “We are so close to removing all the lead pipes in Flint, it’s time to finish what we started.” 

lfleming@detroitnews.com