Usviewer: Replacing pipes to solve the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint could cost at least twice previous estimates, according to a report obtained by a newspaper.
Engineering company Rowe Professional Services told the state the average cost for replacing a service water line through a completed pilot project was $7,500. The Michigan department of environmental quality previously estimated it would cost $4,000, the Detroit Free Press reported on Saturday.
The company’s report said costs could be higher if average permit fees of $2,400 per site were factored in. The largest share of that is $2,200, which includes replacing the pavement.
Representatives for Flint mayor Karen Weaver did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Governor Rick Snyder’s spokesman Ari Adler said Flint was charging “very large fees”. Weaver has said Flint needs more money from the state.
The report notes other concerns arising during the pilot project, including lead-contaminated soil that needs to be properly handled and disposed.
The city has received $2m from the state to replace about 500 lines. The state has authorized roughly $70m in funds for the emergency, and Snyder is seeking $165m more through the budget process.
Still, higher costs could hamper negotiations as lawmakers deal with lower-than-expected tax revenue and enact a new state budget with less overall spending than initially proposed.
So far, 30 lead or galvanized service pipes have been replaced as part of the pilot project. Weaver said the city soon will issue requests for proposals to complete the next phase of the Fast Start pipe-replacement program.
Officials’ decision to not apply corrosion control allowed water to scrape lead from the pipes after the city switched its water supply from Detroit’s municipal system to the Flint river in 2014 to cut costs.
That resulted in the contamination of the water supply and elevated blood lead levels for some people in the city, and may have contributed to the deaths of at least 12 people from legionnaires’ disease.
The financially struggling city of roughly 100,000 people remains under a state of emergency as local, state and federal officials try to deal with the problem.