The citizens in Flint, Michigan have not had clean water in the past five years, but that issue has finally been resolved. Just Monday, it was announced that the city would receive $77.7 million to assist with the water infrastructure improvements. These funds were provided by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
These funds are the remaining balance from a $120 million federal and state loan that was given to Flint in 2017 under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016.
Supporting several Flint water infrastructure projects, these funds will help complete a secondary water source pipeline, construction of a chemical feed building, Dort and Cedar streets reservoir and pump station improvements, water main and water meter replacement, water quality monitoring panel, and contingency service line replacement funding.
“These projects will help the short and long term sustainability of the water system in the city of Flint, but as stated in the Water Distribution Optimization Plan the water system needs in excess of another $300 million in capital improvements over the next 20 years,” says Flint’s Director of Public Works Rob Bincsik.
“While we are grateful for this funding it’s important to understand its not new funding,” he said. “The federal government awarded this funding and is utilizing the MDEQ’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund as the mechanism to disperse it to the City of Flint.”
Along with the $77.7 million, a $51.7 million loan was released to the city of East Lansing and another $10.2 million loan for Monroe County due to the Bedford Township for similar water infrastructure improvements.
Although it is called a loan, Flint will not be expected to pay back the loan since the funds are being offered at a “zero percent interest rate with 100-percent principal loan forgiveness.”
There is already a program called the FAST Start Pipe program in Flint that is planning to replace lead and galvanized steel water service lines that are in the city. There are 20,000 lines estimated that need to be replaced and that it could take as long as until 2020.
This issue within the city occurred when, to cut costs, the city decided to switch their water source from the Great Lakes Water Authority to the Flint River. The salt water in the river corroded the pipes which caused for lead to enter the water. This caused a decrease in fertility, an increase in miscarriages and infant deaths. Also, the percentage doubled of Flint children with elevated levels of lead in their blood and 12 people died from the toxic water due to Legionnaires’ disease.
The state used to have a free bottled water distribution program to provide water to the citizens of Flint, but this was ended in April 2018 regardless of the concerns that the water was still not fully safe for drinking.
Written by: Imani Maxberry