According to Fortune Magazine, Flint residents who are victims of contaminated drinking water, could still be a few years away from drinking unfiltered tap water because the city makes incremental progress on an ambitious — if not overly optimistic — timeframe to replace old water service lines that leached lead into homes and businesses.
The article states that Retired National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael McDaniel, who coordinates the FAST Start initiative, said he has a goal of finishing the pipe replacements for residents in 2019 by fixing service lines to 6,000 homes a year. The city has estimated that lines to 20,000 homes need to be replaced. “So far, I’d say it’s been going slow,” McDaniel said. “We wanted to replace 1,000 service lines in the city of Flint in 2016.” But this has not happened. “We are still working on that contract even today because we’ve had a fairly warm winter.”
Progress to Fix Contaminated Drinking Water is Slow
As of last week, lines to fewer than 800 homes had been replaced with new copper pipe. The effort is plagued by problems that include inaccurate records on the location of pipes and the type of material used in them. Funding for the project beyond this year is also uncertain.
The effort comes as some residents in the impoverished city. Flint is where 57% of the roughly 100,000 residents are black still do not trust the government because of failures that led to the contaminated drinking water crisis. To save money while under state control, the city began using water from the Flint River. This occurred in April 2014 without treating it to prevent corrosion in steel pipes. Residents’ complaints about color, odor and taste were downplayed by the government until elevated levels of lead, a neurotoxin, were detected in children. Twelve people died in a Legionnaires’ outbreak that has been linked to the improperly treated water.
In the future, things may get worse.
The budget proposal President Donald Trump’s administration announced this week will slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s funding. This cut will be by nearly a third, crippling an agency that has played a key role in American life for nearly a half-century.
The main target of the president’s ire seems to be the agency’s programs that address climate change. “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money,” Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said at a press conference. But cuts so large won’t just affect climate change-related programs. These cuts will affect all of the agency’s work and the state environmental protection offices it supports.
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