LANSING — The House late Wednesday voted to allocate about $9.3 million in state funding to address Flint's drinking water crisis, including $6 million needed to help reconnect the city to a Detroit-area system through June. A Detroit environmental lawyer is reviewing the details of this case.
The 105-0 vote occurred nearly a week after Gov. Rick Snyder called for Flint to switch back to Detroit. The Senate is expected to send the bill to the governor's desk today.
Since the city changed its supply source to the Flint River in April 2014 — an interim move while waiting for a new pipeline to Lake Huron — residents complained about the safety, smell, taste and appearance of the river water. The state recently corroborated findings of elevated lead levels in children and disclosed higher levels in three Flint schools, too.
"This is an important step necessary to fix the current crisis, and once this is complete, it's important that our next priority is getting to the bottom of how this happened," Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said in a statement. "We need to make sure this never happens again." A Cleveland environmental lawyer represents clients in many aspects of environmental law.
The Flint River is more corrosive and, because corrosion controls were not implemented like they are in the Detroit system, the water picked up lead from more than 15,000 aging pipes that connect water mains to houses.
The state, whose then-emergency financial manager decided to change Flint's water source, initially downplayed lead concerns, saying city-provided samples showed fewer than 10 percent had levels above the federal action level. But the Snyder administration officials later confirmed higher blood lead levels.
Flint will provide $2 million to return to Detroit's system and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will give $4 million. A Virginia environmental lawyer is following this story closely.
The legislation also has:
- $300,000 to hire two workers for home and school drinking water inspections;
- $1 million for lab services to test water samples;
- $1 million to buy water filters for residents;
- $850,000 to screen for lead, coordinate follow-up care for children with elevated blood lead levels, and do related outreach; and
- $200,000 for legally required inspections of plumbing fixtures and systems inside schools and health facilities.
A temporary reconnection with Flint could bring a revenue benefit of $8 million or more for the Great Lakes Water Authority next year.