Flint, Michigan finally gets the money

The embattled city of Flint, Michigan is finally getting much-needed funding to fix its water infrastructure after years of dealing with poisonous levels of lead.

While under the management of then-Governor Rick Snyder’s so-called “emergency managers,” the city of Flint switched their drinking water source from Lake Huron and the Detroit River back to the Flint River in 2014. The Flint River had not been used since the 1960s due to it being contaminated with chemicals and lead.

As a result, 100,000 residents were exposed to elevated levels of lead, and children exposed to the lead will be dealing with health problems for the rest of their lives.

For years, the city has needed funding to fix the problem, but the state under Snyder’s control did little to help and Congress under Republican control did nothing.

Flint desperately needs an overhaul of their entire water infrastructure, including the replacement of lead pipes, water quality monitoring and a new water source among many other needs.

And now, after years of pleading, the Michigan state government under new leadership is stepping up to deliver aide that should have been given years ago.

According to ABC 12:

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced a $77.7 million loan to the city. Interest will be zero percent and 100 percent of the principal will be forgiven, effectively making it a grant.

Flint Department of Public Works Director Rob Bincsik said the funding is part of the $100 million promised to the city from the federal government years ago. The funding was passed through the DEQ’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund, which is forwarding it to Flint.

The money will be used to complete a pipeline to a secondary water source, pump station improvements, construction of a new chemical feed building, replacement of water mains and meters and new water quality monitoring systems.

It’s a win for a city that has waited for good news for far too long. Unfortunately, while this money is a good start, Flint will still need at least another $300 million to make further improvements.

The disaster in Flint deserved far more attention than it received and Congress should have acted immediately to take care of the city and its residents then. And it should still act now. Congress can easily approve the $300 million the city needs to complete most of the infrastructure work. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we already spend. Sadly, for too many children, it’s already too little, too late.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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