Flint set to replace remaining lead pipes by September, NRDC says

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

City officials in Flint still have to replace lead pipes in about 1,900 homes and have set a deadline to have it finished by September as other properties still need to have their lawns fixed due to pipe removal construction.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which was one of the plaintiffs in a four-year, $97 million settlement in 2017 of a federal lawsuit related to the Flint water crisis, gave an update on Wednesday as it seeks to ensure safe drinking water in Flint. The city originally was expected to replace all lead pipes by November 2020.   

The deadline extension agreement requires the approval of a federal court. Detroit U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson said in 2017 the court would maintain jurisdiction over the case and enforce any disputes with residents.

A worker from Lang Construction wrenches fittings in place for new copper pipe as they replace water lines on Arlene St. in Flint on, June 20, 2018.

The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of religious, environmental and civil rights activists that alleged Flint water was not safe to drink because state and city officials were violating the Safe Drinking Water Act.

"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," said Melissa Mays, a Flint activist and one of the plaintiffs in the federal drinking water case. "Removing lead service lines is a crucial step in replacing Flint's damaged infrastructure and getting us one step closer to a recovery."

According to the NRDC, Flint has uncovered 26,886 pipes to determine whether they are lead and replaced a total of 10,088 lead pipes.

"Failure is not an option in Flint. We want every home to have their wrecked lead pipes removed, so the healing of our community can continue," said Pastor Allen C. Overton of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, another plaintiffs in the case.

Officials with Mayor Sheldon Neeley's office couldn't immediately be reached for comment.