May 26, 2023
Flint says it’s finished required service line work in advance of Aug. 1 deadline
Crews work to digout and replace lead service lines on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at the 2300 block of Calumet Street on Flint's east side. Eight days after the supply of state-funded bottled water ran
Crews work to digout and replace lead service lines on Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at the 2300 block of Calumet Street on Flint's east side. Eight days after the supply of state-funded bottled water ran out in the city, the Flint Action and Sustainability Team begin the work after winter as part of the massive underground construction program, which aims to have contract teams remove and replace at least 6,000 lead and galvanized service lines this construction season. These are pipes that the city says were damaged during its water crisis and remain dangerous potential sources of lead contamination. (Jake May | MLive.com)Jake May
(This story has been updated with additional information.)
FLINT, MI -- The city says it has fully complied with the requirements of a federal court settlement and will complete a service line replacement program by Tuesday, Aug. 1.
Attorneys for Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley and the city made the claim in a U.S. District Court brief filed last week and Judge David M. Lawson issued an order on Thursday, July 27, asking groups that sued the city and reached the settlement with it, to respond to the court filing no later than Thursday, Aug. 3.
Flint’s court filing says three areas of non-compliance with the settlement that the groups alleged in a contempt motion in May “have been fully cured” and an affidavit from a project manager from Rowe Professional Services says that as of July 21, just 19 homes in the city had service lines that required excavation and that those lines were scheduled to be completed by Friday, July 28.
In a statement to MLive-The Flint Journal on Friday, City Attorney William Kim said city officials “believe that we have less than 10 service line excavations to complete, pursuant to the settlement ... All of those addresses are scheduled to be complete by Aug. 1, and we are confident that the city will fulfill its obligations under that agreement.”
An attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the parties to the settlement, said the city’s contentions still need to be reviewed.
“We certainly hope the city completes all required excavations and replacements by August 1,” Addie Rolnick, an attorney with the NRDC, said in a statement to The Journal Friday. “We haven’t seen evidence of that yet. Given the city’s track record implementing this program, we will be taking a very close look at the city’s reporting to ensure it completes all the required work.”
In addition to digging up what the city said were the last remaining service lines, Flint’s court brief says it has visited all homes where lawns and sidewalks must be restored after excavations, provided the information to the NRDC, and completed all required outreach to homes where homeowners haven’t given the city the OK to check service lines.
Flint’s failure to achieve those benchmarks previously led to NRDC and other plaintiffs to file a contempt of court motion against the city and Neeley in May.
In addition to the NRDC, the plaintiffs who asked for the contempt filing were the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Flint water activist Melissa Mays, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. Their contempt motion asked Lawson to order the city to pay a daily fine of $500 until violations of the settlement agreement are corrected and to allow the plaintiffs to seek attorney fees for any future motions necessary to enforce the agreement.
Flint found itself defending the service line replacement program after it repeatedly missed deadlines for completing work that started after the Flint water crisis. The city reached the settlement with the groups that sued it in 2017 but has returned to court to have the deadline extended several times.
Neeley has claimed his administration inherited a mismanaged pipe replacement program after he was elected mayor in 2019 -- part of the reason for delays in completing the work.
Service lines in Flint were damaged by corrosive water that ran through them during the water crisis. Lines made of lead and galvanized steel have been replaced with copper lines while existing copper lines have been left in place.
The city’s most recent court filing does not say when lawn and sidewalks that were damaged during excavations will be repaired but says it is “firmly committed to restoring all (such) parcels ...”
City Administrator Clyde Edwards said Friday that the city is making plans to complete 4,000 restorations before the end of this year.
Edwards said the city has completed more than 28,000 excavations and replaced over 10,000 service lines.
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Read more at The Flint Journal:
Flint, mayor failed to meet lead pipe replacement settlement deadlines, motion says
Flint will meet Aug. 1 service line replacement deadline, new court filing says
Thompson Road closing for water main extension work, traffic detour planned