Lansing, Mich. — On a swing through Michigan with 10,000 pounds of water pipe exhibits in tow and a band of experts at his side, Peter Dyke gave his high density polyethylene 101 presentations to crowds of all sizes.
The turnout was great in Livonia for the executive director of the Alliance for PE Pipe and the resin and pipe manufacturers and equipment demonstrators who accompany him. He said about 70 people, including representatives from Wayne County and the cities of Detroit, Troy, Novi, Warren, Trenton, Berkley, Ann Arbor, Midland, Monroe and Redford Township showed up on Sept. 27 to learn about a fast trenchless installation method called pipe bursting.
However, the next day at a meeting center in the state capitol of Lansing, where about 140 members of the media and Legislature had been invited, only two reporters were in the audience. Dyke said he also had invited the 15 members of Gov. Rick Snyder's 21st Century Infrastructure Commission, which is charged with identifying the best practices to modernize Michigan's water and sewer, transportation, energy and communications infrastructures.
Meanwhile, across town in Lansing, the governor held a news conference about the strides Michigan has made in the year since his administration first acknowledged elevated lead levels in Flint water.
In April 2014, a state-appointed financial manager switched the city's source of drinking water from Lake Huron to the Flint River in an attempt to save money. The proper anti-corrosion controls weren't used and the more caustic river water damaged the pipe system. It ate away at a protective coating that stopped lead from leaching into the water supply. Residents immediately complained about the smell, taste and color of their tap water and then about health concerns like rashes, hair loss and stunted development of children.
The governor said Michigan has appropriated $234 million to the Flint water crisis, including $27 million for pipe replacement. So far, 144 lead service lines (LSLs) have been replaced in Flint. Estimates vary as to how much more work lies ahead. Early projections indicated there are about 5,000 LSLs and 10,000 galvanized steel lines, which corrode and leave nooks where lead can settle. However, new research from the University of Michigan suggests Flint may have to remove 20,000 to 25,000 LSLs.
Also, Sept. 28 in Washington, a Congressional stalemate ended over a spending bill that would authorize $170 million for Flint and other cities with water contamination emergencies.
“Residents of Flint still can't turn on their faucets and drink the water straight from the tap. This is a problem that must be fixed,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said in a Sept. 28 news release. “The citizens of Flint deserve new lead-free pipes and funding from our federal government would help us provide essential infrastructure needs and other resources.”