The EPA awarded the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality a $100 million grant today (March 17) to help the state restructure the water system in the city of Flint, where a crisis continues to keep residents from using their tap water.
Fox Business reports that the EPA is making $31.5 million available immediately. The rest will come “after the city and Michigan complete additional public comment and technical reviews,” reported Fox. The state is required to issue a 20 percent match of $20 million, according to the EPA.
“The people of Flint and all Americans deserve a more responsive federal government,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in an online statement. “EPA will especially focus on helping Michigan improve Flint’s water infrastructure as part of our larger goal of improving America’s water infrastructure.”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver expressed gratitude about Pruitt's statement. The funds will help the city replace its outdated water pipes, which are where the lead continues to leach into the water supply. “[T]hese funds will give us what we need to reach our goal of replacing 6,000 pipes this year and make other needed infrastructure improvements,” Weaver said.
This money comes from the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016, which former President Barack Obama signed last year in December. The EPA notes on its website that this act supplements the agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which remains fully funded under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, which was released yesterday (March 16).
The budget could mean critically negative impacts for communities of color though, and this one grant alone won’t help keep other Flints from happening, critics note—especially with the EPA facing a 31 percent cut.
“This budget also fails to address the Flint water crisis or dozens of other lead in drinking water disasters,” said Annalise Dobbelstein, campaign organizer for Environment Michigan, in an online statement. “Slashing EPA’s overall budget by more than a third means the agency cannot adequately enforce our clean air and clean water safeguards. It is basically a 'get out of jail free card' for polluters.”