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Gov. Snyder hopes to boost funding for water infrastructure

Governor Rick Snyder
Flickr user Michigan Municipal League

Gov. Rick Snyder wants to improve the state's water infrastructure by investing $110 million annually to help ensure access to safe drinking water.

Snyder's office says Thursday the money would come from a new state fee on water customers. It would be used for priority projects such as water main and lead service line replacement, upgrades for failing infrastructure and collection of information on water infrastructure.

Lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint has been blamed primarily on his administration's failures in 2014 and 2015.

The proposal would implement a $1 annual fee per person starting in 2020 and increase by $1 per person to $5 annually per person in 2024. The proposal would expire in 2040. Customers of public water supply systems serving 1,000 people or more would be charged.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers are proposing a package of bills to prevent another Flint water crisis from happening.

State Senator Jim Ananich (D-Flint) says the legislation includes bigger penalties for public officials who commit “egregious” crimes.

“You should have some assurance the people that are supposed to be experts…that are supposed to be protecting you are doing their job,” says Ananich. "If they don’t, this should be not something that is a slap on the wrist.”

15 current and former government officials have been criminally charged in a special investigation of the Flint water crisis.

Other bills in the package would require more transparency from water supplies and new protections for whistleblowers.

Ananich admits this legislation has been a long time coming. He notes that some of the lawmakers who were involved with committees that made the recommendations that led to these bills have since left the legislature.

This post was updated on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 3:50 p.m.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting.
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