The state of Michigan has released the remaining $77.7 million in federal funding for water infrastructure improvements in Flint as the city works to recover from a crippling water contamination crisis.
As reported by MLive, the funds are part of a $120 million federal and state loan given to Flint in March 2017 under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016 and helps support several water infrastructure projects across the city.
Rob Bincsik, Flint’s director of Public Works, made it clear Tuesday that the funds are not new but are a portion of what had already been allocated for the improvement projects in Flint.
“While we are grateful for this funding, it’s important to understand it’s not new funding,” Bincsik said. “The federal government awarded this funding and is utilizing the MDEQ’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund as the mechanism to disperse it to the City of Flint.”
The remaining funds were released alongside a $51.7 million loan to the city of East Lansing, Michigan, as well as a $10.2 million loan for Monroe County for similar water infrastructure repairs, according to MLive.
Projects that the federal loan will contribute to include water main and water meter replacements, the completion of a secondary water source pipeline and the creation of a panel monitoring the city’s water quality, among other improvements.
“These projects will help the short and long term sustainability of the water system in the city of Flint,” Bincsik added. “But as stated in the Water Distribution Optimization Plan, the water system needs in excess of another $300 million in capital improvements over the next 20 years.”
Flint has suffered an ongoing water crisis since 2014, when a switch in the city’s water source caused high levels of lead to leach into the water supply, sickening thousands. Outrage ensued after it was revealed that state officials, including former Gov. Rick Snyder, waited nearly three months before notifying residents that their water had been contaminated.
In December, Mayor Karen Weaver said the city was “ahead of schedule” in replacing thousands of old lead and iron pipelines.