It’s now been 142 days since Gov. Snyder admitted in public that he and his administration knew there was a problem in Flint. A big problem, actually: the poisoning of the city’s drinking water with the powerful neurotoxin lead.
Since then exactly ZERO lead water lines running into the homes of Flint residents have been replaced.
This morning Lt. Gov. Brian Calley held a telephone town hall with Flint residents to answer their questions about the public health catastrophe.
One of the participants told Lt. Gov. Calley, “There’s already been a mistake with switching over to Flint water.” Then she asked the question on the minds of everyone: “Instead of trying to coat the pipes, could you just start replacing the pipes, starting with the schools, the hospitals?”
Calley’s response is enough to make you shake your damn head:
Calley said it’s important to identify the lines first, citing 55,000 properties in Flint, with property records showing 5,000 with lead services lines, 25,000 with a different form of lines, and after removing vacant and abandoned properties “you’re down to about 10,000 parcels.”
Apparently the Snyder administration is only capable of focusing on one aspect of the Flint water crisis at a time. They must first identify where ALL of the lead lines are before they can begin to replace the ones they already know about. It’s a model for action most famously espoused by Charles Winchester, III from M*A*S*H who said, “I do one thing at a time, I do it very well, and then I move on.”
In the meantime there are 5,000 (5,000!!!) homes they know of RIGHT NOW that have lead water lines. Those people must wait for safe water lines until the remaining 10,000 homes are inspected to see if they have lead lines or not. No schools will have their water lines replaced until then. No hospitals. Nobody. They must first identify every home with lead water lines (and do it very well) before they can move on.
This is, simply put, disgusting. And if were happening in Bloomfield Hills or Birmingham or one of the other wealthy communities just a few minutes’ drive from Flint, the shovels would have been in the ground months ago.
UPDATE: A University of Michigan – Flint study released on February 22nd indicates that there are likely more than 8,000 Flint homes with lead service lines. Those folks are just going to have to wait, it appears.
UPDATE 2:: Turns out it’s more like 13,000 homes that need to be checked out to see if they have lead service lines, not 10,000.