The water crisis in Flint, Michigan may soon be resolved, according to officials.
On Monday (December 7), Kurt Thiede, the EPA administrator for Region 5, which includes Michigan, said that 9,700 lead service lines that carry water from main pipes to homes have been replaced.
“The drinking water system in Flint, I think it can be said, is in better shape now than it’s ever been,” Thiede said in an online news conference.
He also shared that less than 500 service lines remain to be checked, and the city hopes to have the task completed by the end of the month.
These replacement repairs are a part of a 2017 settlement reached in a lawsuit residents and nonprofits filed against Flint and the state of Michigan. $120 million in federal and state funding aided in the massive repairs, including more than 26,000 digs to replace the lead service lines.
The crisis began in 2014 after Flint officials, under the advice of a state financial manager, changed the water source from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in an effort to save money. Michigan environmental officials advised city workers not to use anti-corrosive additives which would’ve prevented the Flint River water from carrying lead from aging pipes into residents’ homes.
Flint’s water crisis received national attention and simultaneously shed light on other communities, many of them communities of color, around the nation that don’t have safe drinking water sources or experience environmental racism.
Celebrities like Big Sean, a Detroit native, made donations of bottled water for residents to use. Local activists like Amariyanna Copeny also known as “Little Miss Flint” have continuously raised awareness about the crisis and the years of inaction.
Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley applauded the progress, but acknowledged residents’ potential skepticism saying, “Though the technology is saying we’re better, the psychological impact of having poor water quality for a long period of time still exists, so there is still a crisis in confidence and that’s going to be resolved overnight.”
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