Flint Water Crisis Results in Extra Money to Repair Underground Infrastructure

Due to the ongoing crisis in Flint, local, state and federal officials are recommending and allocating extra money to help residents with their water problems. The allocated funds are being used for a variety of things, including: bottled water for drinking, water filters for taps within homes affected by lead tainted water, and funding to help the city pay for water bills so residents aren’t forced to pay for contaminated water and replacement transition lines.

The Michigan Legislature has already appropriated an additional $28 million to Flint for water filters and health care for citizens affected by lead in the water. Originally, some of the money was going to be used to purchase bottled water, however, the city has seen a tremendous amount of bottled water donation from across the country. They are actually having a difficult time storing all of it.

The Governor recommended (and the Senate passed on February 4th), $30 million to help the city pay for water bills so that Flint residents don’t have to pay at this time.  Many have argued that residents should not have to pay for water that is undrinkable and could pose serious health risks. The legislation now heads over to the House for consideration.

The Federal Government allocated $80 million to various areas of water treatment but not necessarily all to Flint. This allocation was done through loans from the Clean Water Revolving Loan Program with a state match of $12 million. Not all of the money would go to Flint’s water treatment facility, but throughout the entire state in various communities.

The boldest recommendation has come from Congresswoman Candice Miller, who has proposed $1 billion grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to help pay for replacing lead service pipes and other infrastructure in Flint. The vast majority of the media coverage has been on the health risks of lead within the water system and who is to blame for it occurring. What has seen little attention is the costs that will incur to replace the existing infrastructure that is affected. Various groups have suggested that a $1 billion price tag or an even higher one could be needed to fix this immediate problem.

Our aging underground infrastructure system throughout the entire state is something that MITA has been discussing with local and state election officials for many years. MITA staff has met with several members of the Legislature on this very topic and, more recently, has discussed various ideas to help fund our entire state’s underground infrastructure. Flint is just the tip of the iceberg and, as more research is done in other areas of the state, it is likely that we will find additional problems.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Mike Nystrom, Executive Vice President, at mikenystrom@mi-ita.com, or Lance Binoniemi, Vice President of Government Affairs, at lancebinoniemi@mi-ita.com.  They can also be reached at the MITA office at (517) 347-8336.