Flint, MI– If a current project aimed at replacing Flint’s lead and galvanized pipes is not completed by the end of this year, the city won’t be reimbursed for the costs, officials warned the Flint City Council March 23.

The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) funding, which is where the money for the project is coming from, expires Dec. 31, 2022, officials said.

“Whatever monies we don’t spend, we lose,” said Department of Public Works Director Mike Brown during the council’s finance committee meeting on March 24. 

The project to excavate and replace lead and galvanized steel service lines was initially supposed to be completed in 2019 per a settlement agreement between Flint Pastors, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Resources Defense Council against the state of Michigan and the city of Flint. 

That didn’t happen, and the work has since been pushed to 2020, 2021, and now the council has been presented with a resolution to amend the agreement and extend the deadline to 2022.

According to the resolution the city has so far excavated service lines at 26,886 homes and replaced 10,088 lead or galvanized steel service lines identified in their excavations.

Officials have stated that there are about 8,500 addresses that still need their yards and sidewalks restored after being excavated. 

Officials said the first stage of completing the project is issuing a $2.9 million contract to Rowe Professional Services for project management. That amount includes $400,000 for project management for the pipe replacements, and the remainder is for management of the restorations. 

According to the resolution, the Department of Public Works would like to continue contracting with Rowe “due to their experience with the ongoing project, their knowledge of working with EGLE (Michigan’s department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy), the State of Michigan, and CityWorks software used by the city.”

Rowe first entered into a contract with the city of Flint in 2019 in an amount not to exceed $2,138,735, to provide the project management services. In April of 2021, the Flint City Council approved a $500,000 contract extension for Rowe to continue those services, bringing the contract amount up to $2,638,735.

But restorations came to a halt in September of 2021, when Goyette Mechanical, the company completing the restorations, expended all of their funds with several thousand restorations left to do. 

City Administrator Clyde Edwards said this new contract with Rowe is for project oversight, not the “actual physical work.”

“So that includes them sending inspectors, doing what’s necessary to verify the work being done, all aspects of looking over the project that’s not the actual physical work,” Edwards said.

This contract has been delayed by the council since February, as multiple members voiced concerns about approving a contract for management services, and not the actual physical services.

Council President Eric Mays told officials from the administration that he thought a request for proposal for the physical work should have already been sent out.

“Y’all should be putting the request for proposal out, should have maybe been out … because if you don’t put that out for bid, by the time you finish the bid process, we’ll be deep into summer,” Mays said. 

Officials said it doesn’t work that way. 

Although Brown said the remaining excavation and restoration services would likely be done by Lang Constructors, the company already on the job for service line replacement, officials said the city needs Rowe to be involved in the process.

“It’s been in council, it’s been bounced back from this committee to council and back, and we’ve been here to answer questions,” Brown said. “And if we don’t get this going soon, you’re right, of that 8,500 people, not a lot of them are going to be taken care of because it’s going to be tied up here.” 

The council voted unanimously to move the resolution amending the settlement agreement, and the contract for Rowe to the next regular council meeting.

Amy Diaz

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...

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