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UM to spend $100K researching solutions to Flint water crisis

University of Michigan - Flint
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 The University of Michigan will use $100,000 in research funding to address the Flint water crisis.

The announcement is part of a series of efforts led by the University of Michigan’s three campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn to address problems caused by lead-contaminated water.

“This is a tragedy that should not have happened,” Susan Borrego, chancellor of UM-Flint, said in an letter posted on the school’s website. “Although resources are now being committed to the community, we know it is going to take time to address the infrastructure issues, to set up care for the children who ingested lead, and to determine how to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Borrego said the UM-Flint campus has safe drinking water, and started responding to the impending crisis in fall 2014 “when the city issued a ‘boil water’ advisory.”

In her letter, Borrego emphasized that UM’s effort to respond to this crisis goes beyond the UM-Flint campus.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel e-mailed the UM-Ann Arbor community Monday, detailing the partnership between the three campuses and next steps, and touted UM-Flint’s response to the crisis.

“At our core, we are a public university whose mission is to serve the people of Michigan first,” Schlissel wrote in his e-mail. “For 60 years, UM-Flint has embraced this mission to its fullest extent. The campus’ continuing devotion to educational access and its deep investment in the community are at the foundation of a long and resilient partnership.”

Dozens of faculty members from all UM campuses — Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn — will meet on Jan. 29 at UM-Flint’s Riverfront Center in downtown Flint to brainstorm ways to meet immediate needs of the Flint community and consider a sustainable, long-term solution to the crisis.

Kim Broekhuizen, a UM spokesperson, told Michigan Radio the specific distributions of the funds has yet to be determined.

The announcement comes amid a sudden influx of attention to Flint from President Barack Obama, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, 2016 presidential candidates, and national media outlets.

“At U-M, a crisis in the host city of one of campuses is a crisis that affects us all,” Schlissel wrote. “We will do all we can to ensure health and safety for our campus community and the people of Flint. We are all one family.”

- Jennifer Calfas, Michigan Radio Newsroom