Jackson announces water safety plan

The City of Jackson is announcing a major water safety plan that would raise water bills for thousands of homeowners. (Source: WILX)
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JACKSON, MI (WILX) -- The City of Jackson is announcing a major water safety plan that would raise water bills for thousands of homeowners.

The project will remove all the lead service lines going to people's houses as part of a state mandate to avoid another Flint Water Crisis.

"We have a mandate from the state of Michigan saying that we have to remove all of our lead service lines and replace them with copper," said Aaron Dimick, City of Jackson public information officer.

The water main change was the hot topic at the Jackson Council meeting Thursday night. Councilmember Will Forgrave led the meeting to help prepare citizens of Jackson for the changes they will see in their water bills in the near future.

"I don't want to play softball with residents around me - my neighbors. You know, I want them to be informed. I want them to know what's going on," Forgrave said.

The state of Michigan has given Jackson a span of 20 years to replace the 11,000 lead lines, but not the funds necessary to do so.

"The state is not going to be giving us money to fund that so we're looking at up to over $180 million just to replace all the lines, pay for the labor, also pay for the damage that's going to be done to yards, sidewalks, and driveways and homes," Dimick said.

Councilmembers are asking the state of Michigan for at least 10 more additional years to ease the financial burden on citizens, but the people of Jackson feel that the situation is unfair.

"Ultimately, it's the citizens that are going to have to pay for it and that's a hard pill for a lot of people to swallow especially when you have people in there. Talk about senior citizens that are on a fixed income and they're talking about 'well, we'll just move out of the city," said Patrick Grubba, a Jackson citizen.

"I might not even need the lead line replacement cause everybody doesn't need it and whether you need it or not you're going to get the rate increase," said Sherry Allen, Jackson citizen.

Jackson City Council said the replacement plan has no fixed timeline yet, but they will have more answers at their next council meeting on Feb. 11.

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