State should fund mandates

We understand lawmakers’ desire to see lead water service lines replaced around the state.

The Flint water crisis — in which untreated water allowed lead to leach off of pipes and poison the drinking water of Flint’s residents — will forever be a stain on Michigan’s history. Kids who drank that lead-tainted water could suffer the effects — which includes developmental delays and disabilities — for the rest of their lives.

And we should do all we can to prevent something like that from happening again.

But math is math, and it seems unlikely local governments will be able to meet state requirements on their own.

Lawmakers have required local governments to first identify all lead service lines in their communities and then replace 5% of them a year until no lead pipes are left 20 years from now.

But even meeting the first step in that process could be a challenge.

Because of the way records were kept long ago, Alpena, for example, can’t say whether some 1,680 water service lines are made of lead. Digging up yard after yard and street after street may be the only way to find out.

That would be an unbelievably costly endeavor for which Alpena has no money in the budget.

And the state hasn’t guaranteed any money to help them out.

We support lawmakers’ efforts to prevent another Flint water crisis, but they have to put their money where their mouth is and help local governments get the job done.



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