The mayor of Flint, Mich. says more than 6,200 lead pipes have been replaced so far in the wake of the city’s crippling water crisis.
Mayor Karen Weaver gave the update Tuesday, Dec. 12, just weeks after the state revealed plans to launch a program that would mandate the replacement of every underground lead pipe in Michigan within 20 years. In March, the city and state had also agreed to replace at least 18,000 of Flint’s lead-tainted water lines by 2020.
The city suffered a widespread contamination crisis after a decision to switch its water source to the Flint River caused lead from old pipes to leach into the city water supply, sickening thousands. Though officials say the water lead levels are now back to normal, residents are still advised to use at-home filters or rely on bottled water.
“The ultimate goal here is to get [the] lead out of the system,” Eric Oswald, director of the Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division, told the Associated Press in an interview last month. He noted that the state is urging municipalities to hurry and replace thousands of old lead pipes running from water mains to houses. If they don’t, they could face harsh new operational rules.
The state of Michigan currently houses an estimated 500,000 lead service lines, the third most in the U.S. Though both the city and state are just getting started, Weaver believes “significant progress” is being made.