Water worries could soon be eased for the residents of Flint, Mich., with the passage of the Water Resources Development Act in the U.S. Senate by an overwhelming majority Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reports.
The $10 billion water-projects bill includes a provision that would give the city of Flint $100 million to replace and repair lead water pipes. It has been nearly a year since a public health emergency was declared in the city because of lead-contaminated water.
According to the Free Press, the efforts of Michigan's two Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, resulted in the passage of the bill. The two had been working for months to get funding for Flint after children tested for lead had high levels in their bloodstream, and "skyrocketing levels" were found in the drinking water.
Since then, residents of Flint have had to rely on bottled water, and though the water quality has improved, they still rely on bottled or filtered water on a day-to-day basis.
The bill still needs to pass the House, and the current House version of the bill does not contain money for Flint. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said that he has been working with Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and supports the Flint funding, to make sure it is secured.
If the bill passes the House and is signed off on by President Barack Obama, Flint would still only be able to access the funds after working with the state of Michigan to submit a comprehensive plan to the Environmental Protection Agency. The money is only available to Flint because it received a federal emergency declaration by the president because of the public health threat.
“Today’s passage is an important reminder to the nation that the crisis in Flint is far from over," Stabenow said. "Families still cannot drink the unfiltered water that comes out of their faucets. Now our colleagues in the House need to act as quickly as possible. It's also essential that the state of Michigan fully meet its responsibilities to solve the water crisis.”
Read more at the Detroit Free Press.