Fixing Flint's Water Costs Too Much

July 14, 2016

Eventually, Flint, Michigan will get some financial help from the state to replace its lead-contaminated water pipes, but the city is finding the costs for replacing the water lines is outpacing the funding.

Last month, the city of Flint's efforts to replace many of its damaged lead pipes in order to restore safe drinking water hit a major snag after Mayor Karen Weaver said the bids to complete the work were too costly.

The Detroit Free Press reports Flint received a $2-million grant from the state for a pilot study of line replacement that included a provision stating the cost per address must be no more than $5,000. The pilot project's goals counted on bids to come in around $4,000 per pipe replacement but actual costs have been running about $7,500 per line, in part due to permit fees of $2,400 per site that were not included in the budget workup.

When the pilot project ended in May, costs were running nearly twice what Flint had budgeted and a state consultant said the average cost of pipe replacement could be far higher in the future.

Wednesday, Flint officials met to select two contractors to move forward with modified proposals in another attempt to determine the true cost of replacing the water pipes before going forward with a city-wide project. Flint had hoped to do 500 lines in the pilot study but has reduced that number to 250.

In the meantime, as long as Flint's water is properly filtered officials say it is safe to use. City, state and federal officials have yet to provide residents a target date by which they believe Flint water will be safe to drink again without using a filter.