Flint kicks off $55 million water line replacement program
By Ralph Ellis, CNN
Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT) March 5, 2016Story highlights
Flint starts program to replace lead-contaminated water pipes in the city
"This is a day we've been waiting for almost two years," Mayor Karen Weaver said
(CNN)The city of Flint, Michigan, has kicked off a $55 million program to replace lead-contaminated pipes in the city's water system.
"This is a day we've been waiting for almost two years," Mayor Karen Weaver said at a news conference before the first work began. "My mission is to totally get the lead out of Flint."
The "Fast Start" initiative aims to first replace pipes in residences for at-risk groups, such as pregnant women, children under 6, seniors, people with compromised immune systems, and homes where testing shows high lead levels, city officials said.
Weaver is asking Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to pressure the legislature to move immediately to approve $25 million for the first phase of the $55 million plan, according to a press release on the city website.
Last year researchers and medical personnel discovered high levels of lead in Flint residents, especially children. Lead has been tied to a host of medical problems, especially in the nervous system.
The problem occurred after the city switched its water source about two years ago to cut costs. Flint used to buy Lake Huron water through the city of Detroit but the state ordered the source changed to water from Flint River.
In January, the governor declared a state of emergency and the city switched water suppliers again. Now the mayor is leading the way to replace the water pipes.