FLINT, Mich. (AP) — Thirteen of the first batch of 33 homes to get new a water line in Flint didn’t have high levels of lead, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Mayor Karen Weaver promised to target homes with high lead levels in water and where children, older residents and pregnant women live, but many of the 33 homes, which were in various parts of the city, didn’t fit the criteria, The Flint Journal said, citing a report by a contractor, Rowe Professional Services and state tests.
The mayor’s spokeswoman, Kristin Moore, defended the work.
“Mayor Weaver’s goal is to replace all the lead-tainted pipes in the city of Flint, so the pipes leading to these homes would be replaced at some point anyway,” Moore said. “Doing the work at several houses on a street, rather than just one house here and there in a neighborhood will save time and money in regards to needed road and pavement repairs and avoid further construction, disruption and inconvenience to residents.”
Over 18 months, lead leached from old pipes into Flint’s water supply when the city used water from the Flint River. The water wasn’t treated for corrosiveness.
The Journal, citing the Rowe report, said a Church Street home got a new line but never submitted a water test. But Michael McDaniel, coordinator of the Fast Start pipe program, said the home was tested in March and lead was found.
“All of these homes had some level of lead,” program spokeswoman Kathy Barks Hoffman said. “It may not have been above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. But there’s no safe level of lead.”
The Rowe report said the average cost of replacing the lead lines was $7,500 each, plus $2,400 in permits and fees per site.
The state of Michigan has approved $27 million for pipe replacement in Flint, but it’s up to the city to pick the homes and spend the money, said Anna Heaton, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder.
Federal experts say filtered tap water is safe for everyone to drink in Flint, although some doctors still are recommending bottled water for pregnant women and children ages 5 and younger.