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EPA awards $100 million to Flint water crisis recovery

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The city of Flint is getting a big bundle of cash from the federal government to help the city’s recovery from its water crisis.

Congress approved $100 million for Flint last year, but it took until this week for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt to formally award it.  

“The people of Flint and all Americans deserve a more responsive federal government,” Pruitt said in a written statement, “EPA will especially focus on helping Michigan improve Flint’s water infrastructure as part of our larger goal of improving America’s water infrastructure.”

Flint’s tap water became contaminated with lead after the city’s drinking water source was switched to the Flint River. The river water was not properly treated. The river water damaged city pipes which leached lead into the tap water.  While the levels of lead in the water have declined during the past year, residents are still encouraged to use water filters on their taps, especially in neighborhoods where pipes are being replaced. 

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver is grateful to finally have the money from Washington on its way.

“We are excited and very grateful to receive these much needed funds,” says Weaver. “As we prepare to start the next phase of the FAST Start pipe replacement program, these funds will give us what we need to reach our goal of replacing 6,000 pipes this year and make other needed infrastructure improvements.”

Gov. Rick Snyder is also applauding the awarding of the federal funds. The governor notes the state has spent roughly a quarter billion dollars responding to the Flint water crisis.

“This will help keep Flint on a solid path forward,” says Snyder. “It’s great to see federal, state and local partners continuing to work together to help with infrastructure upgrades and pipe replacements for the people of Flint.”

The money isn’t going directly to Flint.  Instead, it will pass through the state Department of Environmental Quality.  

About half the money is earmarked for replacing aging lead pipes, improving corrosion controls and other water system improvements.

The money will help pay for upgrading Flint’s water system so that it will be able to switch to the KWA pipeline, but that process is expected to take years. The city’s water plant is not expected to be ready to treat water from Lake Huron until late 2019 or 2020.  

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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