The water crisis in Flint, Michigan left thousands without clean water and caused mass health issues. Now, the state’s government is attempting to settle the misfortune to its city.
In a hearing at the U.S. District Court on March 27, the state agreed to set aside $97 million to replace all lead and galvanized steel water lines in Flint. The state agreed they will cover all replacement costs for at least 18,000 households and replace those lines by 2020. Accordingly, they will replace pipelines for at least 6,000 households by 2018, 12,000 households by 2019, and all the households by 2020.
Furthermore, Michigan agreed to provide $87 million—state and federal money—to pay for the expense. The remaining $10 million will come from federal funds.
Aside from implementing new water lines, the state department also agreed to monitor the water quality after the lines are installed. They said they will hire an independent service to conduct the test and sample the quality of at least 100 home for a minimum of three years.
While the state’s government installs new pipes, the City of Flint will continue operating Community Water Resources Sites. Each site distributes bottled water, water filters and filter cartridges, and water testing kits. All products are free of charge for city residents. As the water situation improves, the number of sites will decrease.
The Flint water crisis
Flint, a city of approximately 98,310 residents, almost half of which are in poverty, began suffering from a contaminated water supply in 2014.
After Flint suffered a $25 million project debt, the state took over the city’s financial planning. In doing so, they cut Flint’s water supply fund, which was already suffering, and switched the city’s water supply to the Flint River. However, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality was, illegally, not using an anti-corrosive agent in the water supply.
Accordingly, the water was 19 times more corrosive than the city’s original supply from Detroit. Because the Environmental Quality Department did not treat the supply, lead was contaminating the water that residents used. Officials found E. Coli and Total Coliform Bacteria in the water and officials attempted addressing the issue with increased chlorine levels.
This led to severe health problems for the city’s residents. Children experience impaired cognition, behavioral disorders, hearing problems and delayed puberty, while pregnant women experienced fetal issues. Additionally, the prolonged exposure to the lead created heart, kidney and nerve issues with many other residents.
Despite the city’s initial reaction that the water was fine, President Barack Obama ruled that the city was in a federal state of emergency. By that time, however, the water lines suffered from severe corrosion. The city could not fix the water lines and needed to replace all of them to ensure clean water.