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Update on the BWL lead pipe replacement project

Posted at 8:44 AM, Mar 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-11 08:44:38-05

13,445 down, 555 lead service lines left to replace.

"It's kind of mop up work. It's areas throughout the city that either the house was vacant at the time we went through originally or a residence we couldn't get in at the time. So, we're kind of jumping around town right now," explained the BWL's GM Dick Peffley.

He told us even if the lead line hasn't been replaced, the water is still safe from contamination.

"We have the proper corrosion control treatment in place and we will continue to do that throughout our system, even after all the lead services are removed. Just for people that may have faucets that might have some lead content into it, or if their house has copper or pipes that use lead solder," he said.

Peffley said his crews are also willing to provide cartridges or filters for your faucet, if you're concerned.

The project began in 2004 and in order to complete it by next year, crews are replacing two lead service lines a day.

"We figured out a way to pull the lead pipe under ground from the customer's basement right out to the water main," he said. "So, we only have to dig a hole in the street and around the curb on the sidewalk where the shut off valve is. That process takes about 4 hours and costs about $3,600 versus $9,000."

It's a more efficient process that the utility has been teaching crews how to perform in Flint.

"We had the process in place, we invented the tools to do it. We've been consulting with them over the last couple of months. We've had crews up there, they're starting their replacement now and they can do it in a more cost effective manner because of the technology that we've provided," said David Price, Chair of the BWL Board of Commissioners.

Peffley added, "If they run into a problem doing it, we've seen it all over the last 12 years, we'll step in and help them. But after that, we'll be more of a advisory role for them."

As Flint works to replace 15,000 lines in just one year.

If you're concerned about lead in your pipes, Peffley told us there's a specific section on the BWL's website with frequently asked questions.

You can access that page here: https://www.lbwl.com/water/

The information will also be included on your bill this month.