Flint’s water pipes could be fixed by May

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The corroded lead pipes in Flint, Mich., could be fixed in May, putting drinkable water in sight for the city’s residents.

In a Friday letter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said environmental regulators in Michigan and for the federal government estimate that additives in Flint’s water will finish rescaling pipes by May 1, which would stop the corrosion.

But the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disagreed with the letter, saying that it has made no such projection for when the pipes will be ready.

“EPA’s evaluation of the water system is ongoing, and is based on extensive and continuing sampling efforts,” Robert Kaplan, the agency’s acting regional administrator for the Great Lakes, said in a statement.

“EPA has never projected a fixed date for 'rescaling of the water pipes' in Flint,” he said quoting FEMA’s letter.

FEMA did not say when it thinks regulators could certify that Flint’s water is safe to drink, though it predicted that could take three months. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said Friday he would not base the water approval on any calendar date.

Until the water is deemed safe, Flint’s 100,000 residents will still be advised to drink only bottled or filtered water to avoid potential lead and other harmful contaminants.

FEMA also extended the presidential emergency declaration four months past its scheduled April expiration, to Aug. 14. That keeps up a federal supply of bottled water and filters going to the city.

“With this federal assistance, much-needed resources will continue to be available to Flint residents while this crisis exists,” Snyder said in a statement.

“We are working diligently with local, state and federal partners to ensure the people of Flint have access to quality drinking water at their homes as soon as possible.”

— This story has been updated.