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Flint mayor calls on City Council to approve extension for last steps of water line replacement

Council members have voted down a contract extension with Rowe Professional Services to continue working
Crews hydro-excavate in front of a Flint home to determine the composition of its water...
Crews hydro-excavate in front of a Flint home to determine the composition of its water service line. (WJRT)
Published: Mar. 10, 2021 at 12:16 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - Flint’s citywide water service replacement is nearly complete, but Mayor Sheldon Neeley said work could grind to a halt without action from the Flint City Council.

Council members recently voted against a management contract extension with Rowe Professional Services to continue the work. Neeley said failure to approve a contract extension soon will bring the project to a halt.

The water service line replacement project originally was scheduled to be completed in 2019, but Neeley said work was well behind schedule when he took office in November 2019. Crews have investigated 26,800 water services lines and replaced 9,200 made of lead or galvanized metal.

Neeley said fewer than 500 water service lines, which run from water mains at the street to meters inside houses, remain to be excavated to determine their composition.

“All we want is for Flint City Council to do what is in the best interest of the residents of the City of Flint. Instead we are seeing obstructionists who attempt to sideline every issue before them,” Neeley said. “Petty politics has no place here when lives are at risk. People have been through so much for so long, we need to get this project completed.”

Water service lines typically are the responsibility of homeowners to maintain or replace as necessary. The federal government is paying for the citywide replacement project as part of relief efforts from the Flint water crisis.

When the city switched drinking water sources to the Flint River in April 2014, the more corrosive water was not treated properly. That allowed it to eat away the protective lining inside lead and galvanized service lines, causing microscopic lead particles to break off an enter the water inside homes.

The result was lead poisoning across the city, particularly affecting young children. Lead poisoning is known to cause cognitive and developmental delays in children.

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