DETROIT, June 7 (UPI) -- The projected cost to fix the contaminated water system in Flint, Mich., is far higher than previously expected, a new state report has found.
The state-commissioned report from Flint-based engineering firm Rowe Professional Services lays out a multi-decade plan that is expected to cost at least $216 million. The report calls for a vast replacement of the city's infrastructure which would cost at least triple what Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder proposed in his state budget.
About 10,000 lead pipes should be replaced at a cost of $80 million, the firm said in the report. Flint's Mayor Karen Weaver estimates it would cost $55 million to remove the pipes, with up to 500 being taken out in the first phase of the project using $2 million from the state.
"If services are replaced at an average rate of at least 2,000 annually, eight years may be required to complete the replacement program," the report stated.
Also included in the report's "immediate needs" is a yearly replacement of 13 miles of water mains over the next 50 years, repairing or replacing five dams in the region and swapping out at least 2,000 lead service lines over the next five years.
"For over two years, the people of Flint have been drinking through lead-painted straws," Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha told a business conference last week.
The Flint pediatrician brought the crisis to public attention when state agencies ignored her warnings.
A fellow voice on the crisis, Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards told a separate gathering last week, "The water main infrastructure has been severely damaged," he said. "We have to get these water mains upgraded so they they are not being fixed on failure."