W.T. Stevens Construction, a minority-and woman-owned business enterprise, has been awarded a federally funded service contract to replace thousands of water pipes in Flint, Michigan. The state has contracted the entity as a part of a $97 million settlement to replace corroded pipes in the Flint by the year 2020. W.T. Stevens, along with three other companies, will replace more than 18,000 pipes throughout the city as reported by The Network Journal in early May.
Vice-President of the woman-owned company, Rhoda Grayer, stated that the project is the “biggest project we’ve done and as a result of the water line contract our gross revenues have increased by about 70 percent”
“I will tell you that it is really exciting and the most important part of it is the opportunity to employ people who may not have had other opportunities.”Rhonda Grayer, Vice President, W.T. Stevens Construction
W.T. Stevens Construction has been in business for 25 years and employs 25 full- and part-time workers. For the project, the company has added personnel ranging from general labors and plumbers, machine operators and clerical workers, to ex-offenders, youth, and video staff to film the piping being replaced and document its condition.
Rhonda’s husband, Jeff Gayer, serves as the project manager. He told The Network Journal that about 800 water lines have been replaced so far and he hopes to have 6,000 replaced by the end of 2017.
“Our company is usually the only African American-owned business to respond to request for proposals for various Flint city contracts even now after the court rulings related to the water crisis,” he said.
“This is a major project that will ensure public safety and start rebuilding trust between the city and the community … something that has been missing awhile.”
As a result of Flint’s water crisis, dating back to April 2014, thousands of children and adults became sick in predominately African-American cities due to immense lead poisoning. Flint Governor Rick Snyder and other politicians moved to change the city’s water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River without properly checking it for toxins. Though the water quality has since improved, Flint residents’ health and livelihoods are still very much at stake.
More than $250 million in private and federal funds have since been earmarked to help Flint recover from the man-made crisis.