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House adopts money for Flint water infrastructure

A collage of the Flint River
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Flint River (images on left), Flint Water Treatment Plant (images on right)

Federal money to upgrade water systems is on a fast track toward Flint. The state House has agreed to spend $100 million dollars from the EPA and kick in another $20 million from the state.

This is unusually fast action. The federal government approved the money just last week.

“People have been thirsty for action inside the city of Flint,” said state Representative Sheldon Neeley (D-Flint). He says it’s true the city’s water now meets federal safe drinking water standards, but people don’t trust the water is safe.

“Would you drink out of the tap in the city of Flint?” he says “Would you wash your hands, or would you bathe?”

The bill now goes to the state Senate. The measure also includes $3 million dollars from the satte to help Macomb County manage sewage overflows in the aftermath of a sinkhole that’s displaced two dozen families.

State Representative Phil Phelps (D-Flushing) is from the Flint area. He says the money will be used to fix and improve the city’s water treatment plant, and replace lead service lines and water mains. He says the water mains are structurally unsound.

“If we had had a tougher winter, we could have seen serious problems in the city,” he said.

“Time is of the essence when it comes to the sinkhole emergency,” said state Representative Jeff Yaroch (R-Richmond). “We have to act now to protect public safety and health. If we have another heavy rain, we can’t afford to have raw sewage backing up into our residents’ homes and polluting the Clinton River, Lake St. Clair and beyond. Our Great Lakes are too important to not just Macomb County, but the entire Great Lakes region, so we can’t afford any delays in this project.”

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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