CHICAGO – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation providing Flint with $6 million to help over the costs of reconnecting to Detroit’s water and sewer system after a year of struggling with polluted water from the Flint River.
The House acted on the legislation on Oct. 14 and the Senate on Oct. 15 with Snyder quickly signing it. The legislation covers half of the $12 million reconnection costs with the other $3 million of funding in the legislation going to cover the costs of household filters that will still be needed, inspections, and testing.
Flint will contribute $2 million and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation will kick in $4 million to complete the funding package needed.
Flint broke off from the Detroit Water and Sewerage System, since renamed the Great Lakes Water Authority, in 2014, saying it was too expensive. The city began pulling water from the Flint River with a plan to use the river water until 2016, when it will get its water from a new pipeline built by Genesee County.
It quickly became clear that the Flint River water was polluted, with residents complaining of a yellowish color and strong odor. Recent tests show lead levels exceeding federal standards, including in elementary schools. The city will eventually connect to the Karegnondi Water Authority next year.
The temporary move back to the Detroit system will not completely solve the lead problem, officials said. The city will still need to rehab its pipes and households will need to replace lead pipes and plumbing.
Flint had repeatedly asked the state for help. Mayor Dayne Walling in mid-September asked the state for $30 million to tackle the contamination, including $10 million for lead removal. Michigan gave Flint $2 million in February to help with its water quality.
“Reconnecting to Detroit is the fastest way to deliver clean, safe water to Flint and stabilize the infrastructure system,” Walling said in a statement. “Reconnecting to Detroit is a major step that the city could not take alone given budget constraints.”