Flint Mayor Says $55 Million is Needed to Remove and Replace Lead Pipelines

A water filter gets installed last month in a home in Flint, Michigan, as the city battles a toxic water crisis. (PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Rice / Getty Images North America / Getty Images)
A water filter gets installed last month in a home in Flint, Michigan, as the city battles a toxic water crisis. (PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Rice / Getty Images North America / Getty Images)

The mayor of Flint, Michigan, said Tuesday she needs $55 million to remove lead pipes in the city beleaguered by a toxic water crisis. She is asking that Gov. Rick Snyder partner with her to get the funds.

“In order for Flint residents to once again have confidence and trust in the water coming from their faucets, all lead pipes in the city of Flint need to be replaced,” Mayor Karen Weaver said.

That dollar figure is what her public works staff and experts from the Lansing Board of Water and Light came up with during a meeting Monday, she said. The Lansing board pioneered lead pipe removal, the mayor said, adding that it has removed 13,500 lead pipes in Michigan’s capital over 12 years.

Beyond appealing to Snyder, the mayor said the effort to remove lead pipes will take coordination between city, state and federal entities and funding from the Legislature and Congress, or perhaps both.

Snyder spokesman Dave Murray said the governor’s office was reviewing Weaver’s proposal.

“Experts say that the best plan is to first coat the pipes with phosphates to inhibit corrosion, then conduct a study to determine which pipes need to be replaced. We’re working with staff from the city, University of Michigan-Flint and FEMA to study old maps and handwritten city records to create digital maps to determine the location of pipes, and then compare with water testing results to target priority areas and best protect Flint residents,” he said.

“Gov. Snyder is including money in his budget request on Wednesday to address Flint water infrastructure. That figure could be a starting point, but we won’t know for sure until we are able to study the pipes that are in place now and know better what needs to be replaced and how quickly.”

Deputy press secretary Anna Heaton said that the governor will ask the Legislature for an additional $195 million in funding for the crisis.

Officials say $37 million already has been approved.

“We’ll let the investigations determine who is to blame for Flint’s water crisis, but I’m focused on solving it,” Weaver said.

“We are going to restore safe drinking water one house at a time, one child at a time, until the lead pipes are gone.”

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SOURCE: CNN, Ashley Fantz and Kristina Sgueglia