City’s economic health is at stake as long as lead pipes remain in place 

(FLINT, Mich. – February 25, 2016) The Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce is thankful for the funds committed by federal and state governments, and now the focus must be on removing the lead pipes from Flint’s water system as soon as possible.

"We understand the need to ensure proper procedures are followed and for proper study to determine the location of each and every one of Flint’s lead service lines,” said Tim Herman, CEO of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. “But we know from talking to local business owners and residents that the only way to restore confidence in the city’s lead-contaminated water system for the long term is to begin removing lead service lines in the city’s system as soon as possible.

“If there is to be any chance for the community to recover economically and to provide the jobs and opportunities necessary for the city’s rebirth to continue, we must remove any doubt about the safety of Flint water,” Herman said. “This is both a health and an economic crisis.”

Recent sales data confirm that property values in the city, which had started to rise in the past year, have been hit hard by the discovery that much of the water flowing to homes is contaminated with lead leaching from service lines that lost their protective coating when the city switched water sources to the more corrosive Flint River in 2014.  Many potential homebuyers now are reluctant to purchase homes and other buildings served by the city’s water system.

Local restaurants, taverns and other businesses are also seeing a loss of customers, and businesses in general are seeing additional expenses as they provide bottled water to employees and customers.

Herman thanks state and federal officials, private businesses and charitable organizations for stepping up to address immediate needs including providing bottled water and filters, covering the cost of blood and other testing for residents, and providing valuable information to help ameliorate the lead water crisis in the city.

“There’s no doubt that, as long as we have lead service lines in our water system, our efforts to attract and retain business investment, jobs, visitors and students, will be significantly impacted,” he said.

“The only long-term solution for restoring Flint to economic as well as physical health is to get the lead out.”