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Water infrastructure & environmental justice summits this week in Flint

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

Hundreds of experts and vendors will be in Flint this week to talk about the nation’s problems with aging municipal water systems.  

Gov. Rick Snyder and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver will open the three-day Flint Water Infrastructure Conference on Tuesday.   

Flint’s lead tainted water crisis has raised awareness of problems in municipal water systems around the world.

Bryce Feighner is the director the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance division.   He says more than 300 experts and vendors, some from as far away as the Netherlands, will spend time at the conference discussing the problems and possible solutions. The public will also have an opportunity to learn more at the conference.

“I’m hoping for the general public to have a better awareness of their own plumbing systems  and their own water systems, and what they can do to protect their own public health,” says Feighner.

Feighner says in addition to discussing how to fix the problem, attendees will also discuss how to pay for it.

Replacing more than 20,000 aging lead and galvanized service lines in Flint is going to cost tens of millions of dollars. 

Later this week, the city of Flint will hold a special "environmental justice summit."

Pamela Pugh is the chief public health advisor to Flint’s mayor. She says the two-day conference will look for ways to include “communities of color” and “low income communities” in decisions they’ve previously been excluded from.

“We are going to help the community to come up with a vision and some strategic goals that we can work toward,” says Pugh.

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission recently cited “structural racism” as a contributing factor to the Flint Water Crisis. 

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.
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