Black Millennials 4 Flint’s Official Response to MLGW’s Preliminary Lead Service Line Replacement Plan

Dec 5, 2023 | BM4F Spotlights, Uncategorized, Young, Gifted & Green Blog Series | 0 comments

December 5, 2023

Memphis, TN– 
Today, Memphis Light Gas & Water (MLGW) presented their preliminary Lead Service Line Replacement Plan at the Memphis City Council Committee Meeting as requested by known Environmental Justice Champion Councilwoman Michalyn Easter-Thomas. After over 6 years of requests from Black Millennials 4 Flint and other partner community organizations, it was a good first step with gaining some transparency.  It also was perfect timing as the US Environmental Protection Agency announced the new mandate for replacing all lead service lines in 10 years. 

In response to MLGW’s plan, we have the following recommendations: 

  • MLGW Should Develop a Community Lead Service Line Replacement Community Advisory:  This proposed advisory should adhere to the Justice40 initiative (in which MLGW has received funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law) where at least 40% representation should be from Black, Latinx, Indigenous and economically disadvantaged communities. Our organization has successfully advised the Biden-Harris administration on lead service line replacement nationally, and successful cities have this type of community stakeholder advisory in place. Memphis should as well. 
  • MLGW Should Conduct a 10-Year Lead Service Line Replacement Cost Analysis and Ask for Local, State and Federal Funding:  Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law  is not enough to replace all lead service lines. We celebrate MLGW President Doug McGowen who is shifting the culture of securing as many funds as possible, but Memphis City Council and all elected local, state and federal bodies have a responsibility as well. 
  • MLGW Should Update the Outdated Inventory Map:  The current GIS lead service line inventory map is a decent starting point, but it only identifies the status of the line on the public side–meaning residents still can’t use the resource in its current state to determine if there is lead on the private property side. 
  • Memphis City Council Should Research and Develop a Local Policy to Protect Renters: Currently, MLGW faces extreme challenges with replacing lead service lines on the private side for renters because it requires consent from the actual property owners.  We know Memphis is largely a renter city, so Memphis City Council should look to cities like Washington, DC, Newark, NJ and Denver, CO to develop a local policy to protect constituents and remove the barriers for MLGW to equitably replace all lead service lines regardless of ownership. Our organization has experience with informing these policies and we are extending an invitation to both MLGW and Memphis City Council to collaborate. 

With new Mayor-Elect Paul Young coming into office on January 1, 2024, we think the first order of business for both the new administration and MLGW is to prioritize replacing lead service lines…GET THE LEAD OUT! 

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