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FLINT, MI — Mayor Karen Weaver’s FAST Start initiative to replace all the lead-tainted service lines in Flint will be featured on an episode of “This Old House” set to air in mid-May on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).
Richard Trethewey, the show’s plumbing and heating expert, was in Flint today with a film crew. He spoke with investigative journalist Curt Guyette, who broke the story of the lead-tainted drinking water while working for the ACLU of Michigan. Trethewey also visited the Flint Water Treatment Plant and filmed a work crew replacing a lead-tainted pipe leading from the street to a Flint home while discussing the pipe replacement program with FAST Start Coordinator Michael McDaniel.
“We’re extremely pleased that ‘This Old House’ decided to feature the FAST Start initiative in one of its episodes,” Mayor Weaver said. “Replacing lead and lead-tainted galvanized service lines in Flint is absolutely necessary if Flint residents are going to be able to trust the safety of their water once again.”
Mayor Weaver launched her FAST Start initiative to help resolve a number of problems created after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the City’s water source to the Flint River in 2014 without the necessary corrosion control chemicals being added. The corrosive water removed a protective coating on the inside of the pipes, causing lead to leach into the water flowing to homes and businesses in the City of Flint.
While the level of lead in Flint’s water supply has been significantly reduced since the city switched back to water delivered from Lake Huron by the Great Lakes Water Authority, residents still are being urged to drink only filtered water, and to replace their filters when needed.
“This Old House” is filming 10 episodes in Detroit that will premiere nationally on PBS on Thursday, March 30, 2017. The Flint episode should air in mid-May. Viewers can check their local listings for the air date and time at https://www.thisoldhouse.com/
Trethewey planned to explain the Flint water crisis from a plumbing perspective. Crews working with the FAST Start initiative aren’t replacing lead-tainted pipes within homes, but separate federal funding will be used to help homeowners replace internal pipes and fittings that could leach lead into their drinking water supply.
“Quality, safe drinking water is something we often take for granted,” said Trethewey. “There is a lot we can learn from the Flint situation and the program the city has put in place.”
McDaniel has been overseeing the FAST Start initiative since Mayor Weaver announced it last February. So far crews have replaced lead and galvanized steel service lines leading from the water main to the water meter of about 800 homes. Copper service lines found leading to 120 homes were not replaced. Bids are now being accepted for work to replace lines leading to 6,000 homes in 2017.
“Renovating the City of Flint’s aging water system is a challenge, but it has been hugely satisfying to see Flint residents’ relief when their pipes are replaced,” McDaniel said. “We hope the City of Flint continues to receive the funding needed to replace all of its lead-tainted service lines which I think could happen over the next three years.”
It’s estimated that around 20,000 Flint residences — and possibly as many as 28,000 — still have lead or galvanized steel service lines that need to be replaced.