A request submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality indicates that the city of Flint intends to use $100 million in federal funds to improve its water-treatment plant, replace underground pipes and make other system improvements.
The request is part of the process for the city to get the funds that were approved by Congress last year in response to Flint’s water contamination crisis, but as the Detroit News notes, the federal Environmental Protection Agency must still review the city’s “intended use plan,” which includes a $20 million match already appropriated by the state.
The funding request was submitted by the state Feb. 17 and is similar to a plan that Flint Mayor Karen Weaver proposed last month, but its wording has changed in some instances to fit federal categories and ensure chances for approval.
Kristin Moore, Weaver’s spokeswoman, said, “So city officials are glad the process is moving along and we’re one step closer to securing the funding that is crucial to Flint’s recovery.”
The federal aid would be administered by the state through the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, and the money would be provided to the city in the form of loans that the state would fully forgive.
The $120 million would be used as follows: $58.5 million to improve the Flint water treatment plan, $40 million to replace underground service lines throughout the city, $10 million for distribution system and transmission main improvement, $10 million for water meter replacement and $1.5 million for technical assistance provided by the state.
If Flint wants to access funding for water-treatment-plant improvements, it will have to submit a separate plan for that.
From the Detroit News:
The request outlines Flint’s plans to replace roughly 12,000 lead and galvanized steel service lines over the next two years, “removing the risk of potential drinking water lead contamination from service lines.”
City officials also want to improve transmission mains in three areas and replace water mains “in numerous” neighborhoods, which the state environmental department said would minimize water loss, improve efficiency and help optimize corrosion control for lead.
Replacing water meters throughout the city would reduce “unaccounted for water and ensure an appropriate rate is charged to customers” according to the federal funding request, “thereby creating a suitable revenue stream to fund future maintenance and replacement needs in the larger system.
President Barack Obama signed a continuing resolution in December that secured the funds for Flint after efforts by Democratic Michigan Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters as well as a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Flint’s water system became contaminated after a state-appointed emergency manager switched the source of the city’s water from Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014. Untreated water damaged the pipes and caused lead to leak into the city’s water supply.
Officials claim the lead levels in the city’s water are below federal action limits, but residents are still advised to use only bottled water or a properly installed water filter.
Even with residents still having relatively unusable water, the state announced this month that it was ending a program that reimbursed Flint residents and businesses for a portion of their water bills.
Residents also learned that water shutoffs for nonpayment would be resuming, too.
Read more at the Detroit News.