In Flint, the average main was more than eighty years old. 24 More than fifteen thousand lead service lines were laid so long ago that nobody really knew where they were. The only way to locate them was to sort through forty-five thousand index cards kept in a big file drawer, deciphering smeared pencil handwriting to read someone’s incomplete notes about which pipes were made of what. 25 Flint’s distribution system included nearly four thousand fire hydrants, the oldest of which was more than fifty years old, and more than seventy-two hundred valves, which were never replaced unless they outright failed.
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