New team tackling replacement of lead service lines in Flint introduced at community forum

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FLINT, Michigan (WJRT) - (02/01/2018) - "Flint is really in the forefront of establishing what we would call standard operating procedures that the whole country is going to be watching and will want to follow," said Alan K. Wong, the Senior Program Manager for AECOM.

Wong spoke to residents at Thursday's community forum, where Flint residents had the opportunity to meet the new team hired by the city to oversee the next phase of the FAST Start pipe replacement program.

The city council approved a 13-month, five million dollar contract with AECOM back on November 27, 2017.

AECOM is a global infrastructure firm that has worked on improving water systems in the U.S., and around the world.

To date the city has replaced 7,750 lead service lines to homes.

AECOM noted that while the foundation has been laid, it has a lot of opportunities ahead of it to be more efficient, and to be more productive.

"I can think of no higher honor and calling, than living here in Flint, to help this community," said Wong in his opening remarks.

As Senior Program Manager, Wong will oversee the engineers and contractors selected by the city of Flint for the next phase of the FAST Start pipe replacement program, along with other projects.

"This type of work," he said, "is not being done widely."

At the forum, residents learned the next phase of FAST Start includes hiring out contractors so crews can identify homes this spring that have outside lead or galvanized service lines.

They'll be using a process called hydro-evacuation.

"Its really just a large vacuum, that sprays some water and sucks dirt out of the ground," said Rob Binscik, the new director of the Department of Public Works for the city.

The process is supposed to be faster, cheaper, and less destructive than excavating.

City records show there are about 12,000 Flint homes that need to have their lines replaced.

The goal for 2018 is to get to work on at least 6-thousand.

We spoke with residents at the conclusion of the presentation to get their impressions of the new team.

"I'm impressed," said Flint resident Arthur Woodson,"he said transparency, confidence, and trust, those are three key words right there."

"I like some of the things, I don't want you to think I'm bad mouthing," said Flint resident Anthony Palladeno Jr., " but I know there's some problems that have not been taken care of, for one the residents who are still hurting, we're still poisoned."

'I like the diversitivity," said Flint resident Joyce McNeal,"this is not just about replacing pipes, it's about rebuilding Flint from the ground up."

FAST Start crews will begin replacing outside lead tainted service lines in late April or early May.

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