A bi-partisan Congressional agreement will provide $170 million in assistance to Flint, Mich. and other communities impacted by lead contamination.
The agreement provides access to $100 million to help repair Flint’s drinking-water infrastructure, funding to activate at least $200 million in low-interest loans to upgrade water infrastructure in other communities in Michigan and across the country, and $50 million to help address the healthcare needs of children exposed to lead nationwide.
The agreement also provides the State of Michigan with the authority to forgive $20 million in past drinking water loans to Flint and requires that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warn the public within 24 hours of high lead levels in drinking water if a state fails to do so. The bill now awaits President Barack Obama’s sign-off, according to the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA), which lauded the agreement.
“I am pleased that this important step has been taken to protect the public’s health and ensure the safety of the water supply in Flint and other communities,” said MNA President & CEO Donna Murray-Brown. “I applaud the nonprofits that have been working diligently in the Flint area, and hope these funds will enable them to do more.”
As reported in The NonProfit Times earlier this year, concern regarding Flint’s tap water dates back to the spring of 2014 when the city switched its water source from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) to the Flint River. The city eventually switched back to DWSD, but not before the safety of its drinking water had become compromised. Social-service providers and community organizations in the area were active in fielding residents’ questions and concerns and distributing clean water.
Efforts have also been made to raise money to help with the long-term effects of those exposed to lead. “We know that this response over a 20-year period is going to require millions of dollars, not thousands of dollars,” Kathi Horton, president of the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, said at the time.