FLINT (WJRT) (12/4/2018) - The city of Flint's water service line replacement program is a year ahead of schedule, according to Mayor Karen Weaver.
She said 18,313 pipes have been excavated in two years and that's roughly what crews projected they would have completed in three years.
The 18,313 pipes were considered a priority by the original leaders of the project, University of Michigan-Flint and Brigadier Gen. Michael McDaniel. They had been flagged based on high lead levels in the water or children living in the home.
Of the 18,313 pipes investigated so far, the city says 7,707 of them were lead or galvanized pipes and were replaced.
Water service lines are the pipes running from city-owned water mains at the street into residences and businesses. Generally, service lines are the property owner's responsibility, but the city is replacing them using a federal grant after they were determined to be a source of lead contamination.
During the Flint water crisis, drinking water pumped from the Flint River was not treated properly, causing a protective coating to get eaten away by excessive corrosion. That allowed particles of lead to leach from the pipes into the water.
The mayor thanked the contractors and several community partners who attended a press conference Tuesday, explaining this feat was accomplished in record time.
However, Weaver said the project remains far from complete. There are still 10,000 to 12,000 more pipes left to be excavated across the city in 2019.
Weaver expects all of the work to be complete by next July.
In the meantime, she's still urging people who live in the city to drink bottled water or use filters on their tap until all of the work is complete.