GIS Helps City of Flint Suss Out Lead Pipe Locations
The city of Flint, Mich. is depending on the UM-Flint GIS Center to uncover where lead pipes lay within its tainted public water system.
By Andrea Fox, Gov1 Senior Editor
The city of Flint, Mich., suffering a public health emergency that began in October 2015, is depending on geographic information systems (GIS) to uncover where lead pipes lay within its tainted water system so that they might be removed.
Marty Kaufman, a professor at the University of Michigan-Flint, and his team are mapping pipes based on city data. “This project is designed not only to locate where the lead service lines are, but also to determine where the concentrations of lead service lines are; provide a way to see if there are any associations between the concentrations of lead lines and elevated blood levels of lead (particularly in children); and provide another source of data which can help identify potential sources of lead in drinking water,” he said.
The GIS effort has required data inputs from more than 200 city maps dating from the 1980s, the 1950s, and earlier, into digital format. According to a report by NBC, Kaufman’s team has found 4,500 plots with lead pipes, but the city maps contain more than 10,000 plots with unmarked water lines .