Jackson gets $16.5 million for water infrastructure and replaces lead service lines

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JACKSON, Michigan — There are more than 11,000 lead service lines in the city of Jackson. Those in charge have set themselves the objective of replacing them all in order to preserve the quality of the water. They received funding to try to make it happen.

“This really puts some wind in our sails when it comes to our lead service line replacement program,” said city public information officer Aaron Dimick.

About $9 million will go under Jackson’s streets and in replacing city pipes.

This is part of a $16.5 million funding round from the State of Michigan.

“It’s a really big change and it means we’re going to be able to do more line replacements per year, which means we may be able to finish this project sooner,” Dimick said.

City officials say there is a lot of work to do.

They say it can cost nearly $130 million to replace all the lines and take up to 30 years.

“What feels like a lifetime and it is a lifetime for a lot of people, but that’s kind of our realistic picture of what it’s going to take just because it takes so much power, it takes so much effort, so much money to get this accomplish. We’re really working as fast as we can,” Dimick said.

And, the work being done could help prevent residents of Jackson from suffering their own water crisis like what happened in Flint and more recently in Benton Harbor.

City officials point out that there are no known problems with lead in the water.

“It’s really important for our residents to know that we’re working as hard as we can to get lead pipes out of the ground and make our drinking water as safe as possible,” Dimick said.

Since this summer, 381 lead connections have been replaced. The administration has earmarked $7.5 million for replacing water mains and improving its water and wastewater treatment systems.

The majority of the funds come from grants, which means the city will repay a $4.1 million loan over 20 years.

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