Flint May Benefit from of $10B Water Projects Bill

Staff Sgt. William Phillips, with the Michigan National Guard, assists a resident at a water distribution center Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. AP

As the water woes continue in Flint, affecting is largely poor and Black population, the people there may get some relief as a result of the U.S. Senate’s approval of a $10 billion water projects bill that includes emergency funding for the town.

Senators approved the bill 95-3. The measure now goes to the House, where approval of a similar bill — minus the Flint provision — is expected as soon as next week.

The Senate measure would authorize 29 projects in 18 states for dredging, flood control and other projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation comes nearly a year after officials declared a public health emergency because of lead-contaminated water.

The bipartisan bill includes $100 million in grants and loans to replace lead-contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities with lead emergencies, as well as $50 million to test water for lead in schools and $70 million for water infrastructure loans.

Michigan’s Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, welcomed the measure, but said it comes months too late, with city residents still using bottled water.

“The people of Flint have waited way too long” for help from the state and federal governments, Stabenow said. “This should never have happened. And we know it happened because of decisions made — bad decisions — at the state level.”

Mayor, Karen Weaver says she doesn’t believe the crisis will be over until the miles of contaminated pipes in Flint are replaced.

“It’s unconscionable that we have entered into Year 3 that we can’t turn on the faucets and have clean water,” Weaver said Wednesday in Washington at a news conference before the Senate vote.

Flint’s drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money. The impoverished city was under state control at the time.