By Harold C. Ford
“This community’s perseverance has been remarkable and your success has been remarkable.” – Michael Harris
“Five years ago, Flint was in the middle of one of our nation’s greatest drinking water crises in our nation’s history. Understandably, trust in leadership and government was just as corroded as the pipes that tainted your drinking water. Flint has turned the corner and is on the brink of completely removing all lead service lines throughout the city and also rebuilding its water infrastructure from the ground up. This community’s perseverance has been remarkable and your success has been remarkable,” reflected Michael Harris, Director of the Enforcement and Assurance Compliance Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from Region 5 in Chicago.
On May 6, 2021, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley issued a progress report on his administration’s plans to address Flint’s notorious water crisis at its seven-year mark. Information about ongoing efforts to mitigate and repair damage caused by the crisis can be accessed at www.cityofflint.com/ProgressReport.
Flint’s municipal water source was switched to the Flint River in 2014. A human health crisis resulted when anti-corrosive additives did not accompany the switch, causing pipes to corrode and leach lead into public drinking water.
“The water crisis should never have happened,” said Neeley. “These actions are designed to make sure it never happens again.”
“Partnership is key to make sure we’re moving our community forward” – Mayor Neeley
The City is partnering with the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to address infrastructure needs.
EGLE Director Liesl Clark announced her agency’s commitment to completion of a water pipeline from Lake Huron to Flint. “We’re looking forward to seeing major projects like a second pipeline to Lake Huron,” Clark said. She also signaled nearing completion of lead service line replacements and modernization of the city’s water treatment and distribution system.
Neeley introduced Michael Brown as the city’s new Department of Public Works director. “It’s not the face you’ll usually associate with Mike Brown,” he said, making clear this Mike Brown is not the Mike Brown who served as the city’s acting mayor from February, 2009 to August, 2009 and as emergency manager from December, 2011 to August, 2012.
“We’ve been battling bad information” – Mayor Neeley
“One thing we’ve been battling is bad information being disseminated throughout the community,” contended Neeley. “We want to make sure you have good information, in real time, as we move forward, as we go through this crisis.”
Some information currently posted at the progress report webpage:
- The current lead level in Flint’s water is 6 parts per billion (ppb); the federal standard is 15 ppb or less.
- The year-to-date spending of $167 million total received is $104 million or 62.5%.
- Infrastructure improvement projects updates include: water quality monitoring, $374,400, completed in 2021; household water meter upgrades, $11,00,000, estimated completion in 2022; secondary water source, $14,726,000, estimated completion in summer of 2021; Dort and Cedar reservoirs, $10,310,632, estimated completion in 2022; service line replacements, $97,019,659, estimated completion in summer or fall of 2021; water main replacements, $22,661,680, estimated completion to be determined; chemical feed building, $5,100,000, estimated completion in fall of 2021.
Citizens with questions or concerns about Flint’s water can call the following numbers:
- Water, (810) 766-7202
- Sewer, (810) 766-7079
- Billing, (810) 766-7343
EVM reporter Harold Ford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.