Flint mayor says 1st lead water pipes to be removed next week

Weaver says 'Fast Start' pipes plan will begin next week

FLINT, Mich. – The mayor of Flint plans to have the removal of lead water pipes in her city begin as early as next week. 

Mayor Karen Weaver said she is working with water infrastructure experts from the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) to train local Flint workers on lead pipe removal at a vacant property in Flint owned by the Genesee County Land Bank. House-by-house lead service line removal and replacement operations targeting high-risk households across the city will commence shortly thereafter, Weaver said.

“I will not accept anything less than full removal of all lead pipes from our water system,” said Mayor Weaver. “I continue to hear from Lansing that the people of Flint should wait to see if pipes can be ‘coated.’ I call on Governor Snyder to end that discussion, and to commit fully to getting the lead out of Flint."

According to Weaver's office, during the training exercise next week, the BWL will demonstrate its innovative technology for removing and replacing lead pipes with new copper pipes in half the time at half the cost of traditional methods. The Lansing public water and electric utility has removed more than 13,500 lead pipes in Michigan’s capital city over the past 12 years, according to the Flint mayor's office. 

“Flint is so fortunate to have great neighbors, friends and partners reaching out to us from every corner of Michigan, across the country and all around the world. Our sister city right next door in Lansing is definitely one of our strongest allies,” Weaver said.  “I’m especially grateful to Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and the Board of Water & Light for their help. Together, we’re going to get the lead out of Flint, starting next week.”

Meanwhile, Weaver is pressuring Gov. Rick Snyder to push the state Legislature to move immediately to approve funding for the first phase of her $55 million "Fast Start" lead pipe replacement plan. Her office said the replacement plan has been endorsed by renowned Virginia Tech water expert Dr. Marc Edwards

“If the state and federal governments won’t pay to restore safe drinking water and dignity to the people of my city, I may have to go on national TV and crowdsource the funding on the Internet,” Weaver said. “Rachel Maddow might just be willing to help me issue a worldwide challenge to the celebrities and other philanthropic donors who are showing so much love for Flint. We’re going to get this done -- and done quickly -- by any and every means necessary. The people of my city have simply run out of patience and I have a moral obligation to act.”