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Senators say they’ll ask for more federal money to help pay for Flint water infrastructure

Jan 28, 2016

Credit USDAgov / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters say they’ll try to make up to $400 million in federal money available to help replace damaged pipes in Flint. The two announced today they’d offer an amendment to a bill the Senate is set to consider next week.

“This is a perfect opportunity for us to offer an amendment that we think makes sense, that augments what the state is and should be doing and most importantly creates a sense of urgency for what’s happening as it relates to families in Flint,” Stabenow said during a conference call Thursday.

But getting that federal money would require the state to match the amount, dollar for dollar.

State lawmakers have allocated tens of millions of dollars to help Flint’s water crisis. But State Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, says it’s too soon to say if they’re willing to fork over hundreds of millions.

“I understand folk’s frustration, but we also have to do it correctly,” Pscholka said. “Should we just throw $400 million at this right now and I don’t know, does that cover it? What does it cover? Where does it cover? Which pipes does it cover? I mean a lot of those are unknowns,” Pscholka said.

It’s not clear yet how badly Flint’s pipes were damaged from improperly treated water that ran through the pipes for 17 months. Early estimates from Genesee County show complete replacement would cost nearly $800 million dollars, which is what Stabenow and Peters say they’re basing their amendment on.

The amendment would also create and fund a “$200 million Center of Excellence on Lead Exposure to focus on the immediate and long-term needs of children and adults exposed to lead.”