The Environmental Protection Agency awarded Michigan $100 million to help replace Flint’s badly eroded and damaged water infrastructure.
The funding was provided by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 and enables the beleaguered city to replace its decaying lead water pipes. Michigan is providing the required 20 percent match of $20 million.
The fix is part of the Trump administration’s goal of updating the country’s water infrastructure, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt said Friday in a press statement.
“The people of Flint and all Americans deserve a more responsive federal government,” he said. “EPA will especially focus on helping Michigan improve Flint’s water infrastructure as part of our larger goal of improving America’s water infrastructure.”
The funding was initially approved by Congress in December and signed into law by former President Barack Obama, but the EPA had to review and approve how the money was to be allocated. The funding wasn’t officially granted until after Pruitt took over the agency.
Michigan Democrats and Republicans praised the EPA’s decision to infuse money into the dilapidated city’s broken water supply.
“We are excited and very grateful to receive these much-needed funds,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. “The City of Flint being awarded a grant of this magnitude in such a critical time of need will be a huge benefit.”
Michigan officials and Flint residents have been struggling to get the small, mostly black town’s water system up and running after lead contaminated its water supply.
Officials switched the small Eastern Michigan city’s water supply from Lake Huron in 2015 to the Flint River in a bid to save money. But the state applied the wrong regulations and standards for drinking water, which ultimately resulted in corroded pipes.
Various reports conducted in the past two years indicate the EPA has been slow to respond to the growing scandal.
One report published in March, 2016, claimed the EPA only acts to enforce clean drinking water regulations when public outrage reaches a fever pitch, implying negligence on the part of agency officials.
Another report conducted in February, 2016, by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), details how the EPA fails to force state regulators to comply with federal drinking water laws.
Nearly 2,000 citizens became fed up with the dawdling, so they sued the federal agency for failing to address the long-running water crisis.
The lawsuit claims the EPA failed to take the proper steps to ensure that state and local authorities were addressing the crisis. The defendants are seeking a civil action lawsuit for $722 million in damages.
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