DALLAS -- A group of local and national foundations have pledged $125 million to help Flint, Michigan deal with its water contamination crisis.
Ten foundations this week announced they will work together to help Flint recover and rebound from its water crisis. The Flint-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation pledged the largest amount -- $100 million over the next five years. The foundation will make a $50 million commitment in the first year.
"Flint's water crisis is far from over. While some funds and services have been provided, we're still waiting for the state and federal governments to step up, replace damaged infrastructure and make long-term commitments to the health and education of children," said the Mott Foundation's president, Ridgway White.
When the high levels of lead exposure among Flint children following the city's disconnection from the Detroit water system were revealed in September of 2015, Mott committed $100,000 to provide residents with home water filters and pledged $4 million to help reconnect Flint to the Detroit system. With an additional $6 million from the state and $2 million from the city of Flint, that switch took place on October 16.
Other foundations pledging funds are FlintNOW Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, committing up to $5 million; the Kresge Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation, The Hagerman Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ruth Mott Foundation and the Skillman Foundation.
The funds come on top of the $128 million in support proposed by the Michigan Senate and $39 million proposed in Michigan's budget for fiscal year 2017.
The legislature has approved three supplemental appropriations to assist the city -- $9.35 million in October 2015 to help the city reconnect with Detroit Water, $28 million for immediate services in January and $30 million to pay residents' water bills in February.
The water contamination crisis began after it broke off from the Detroit Water and Sewerage System in 2014 when its contract to receive Detroit-supplied water ended. It needed a water source as it awaited the completion this year of the bond-financed Karegnondi Water Authority pipeline being built by Genesee County. It turned to the Flint River but didn't properly treat the water and ended up corroding pipes, creating contamination that remained even after it returned to the Detroit system last year.
The crisis has drawn more scrutiny to Flint's participation in the new pipeline and backing of a portion of the bonds sold for the project along with the county. A local paper that obtained state emails related to the crisis provides deeper glimpse into the negotiations that led to the city's participation in the bond financed Karegnondi pipeline.
Flint and Genesee County sold $220 million of bonds to fund the 63-mile pipeline to Lake Huron. The bonds featured a back-up pledge from Genesee County should Flint ever default.
The bonds mature in 30 years and are payable from the contracts as well as the LTGO pledges of Flint and Genesee and a step-up provision provide by Genesee to cover any shortfall from Flint.
Genesee is responsible for paying roughly 66% of the debt service and Flint 34%, according to bond documents.
The e-mails recently released by Gov. Rick Snyder and reviewed by the Detroit Free press reveal that a deal struck between the state Department of Environmental Quality and the city paved the way for the city's participation because of the debt would be counted against its debt limit. The exemption was allowed under an "administrative consent order," or ACO, between the DEQ and Flint, which was under state emergency management. It underscores the role the state played in helped Flint make the move, aimed at lowering its water use costs.
Last month, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said his criminal probe of the Flint water crisis will include a review of the development and approval of the bond-financed pipeline KWA is building to deliver water to Flint.