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U.S. senators strike deal on Flint water funding package

Feb 24, 2016

Flint’s mayor believes a U.S. Senate deal could free up federal money to pay to remove the city’s lead service lines.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.,  Gary Peters, D-Mich and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., hammered out the deal.  

The proposal would authorize $100 million in emergency aid to fix and replace the city's lead-contaminated pipes, as well as $70 million in loans to improve its water infrastructure.

The deal also authorizes $50 million nationwide to bolster lead-prevention programs and improve children's health.

Mayor Karen Weaver says the federal money could be used to replace thousands of service lines that could be leaching lead into the tap water.

“This money would be welcome help from the federal government that can be used to help pay for my Fast Start program to replace all lead service lines to homes in Flint and to help make sure children in Flint who have been exposed to lead are being monitored,” Mayor Weaver said in a written statement. 

The city is getting a $2 million grant from the state that can pay for removing hundreds of service lines.  Flint’s mayor has estimated the total cost of removing lead service lines may top $50 million.

A University of Michigan-Flint study suggests there are at least 8,000 service lines that likely contain lead that may be leaching into drinking water.  

But the damage to Flint’s water infrastructure probably extends beyond the service lines. 

One early estimate placed the potential cost of fixing the system at over $1 billion.