There’s some positive news about the Flint Water Crisis today, for a change; according to a report from Click On Detroit, the Michigan Senate has unanimously approved a $28 million in additional funding to address Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water.
The emergency spending bill includes $4.6M for additional bottled water, $3.9M to treat children with high blood lead levels, and more, including testing and water treatment.
This bill marks the second round of state funding allocated to stymie the effects of the water crisis since the lead contamination was confirmed.
As per Fox 6 Now, the bill was signed on Friday by Governor Rick Snyder, who addressed the Flint crisis moments before making the bill official.
“We don’t walk away if something doesn’t go right. Let’s stand up together as Michiganders to say mistakes were made, problems happened, we’re going to solve them, we’re going to fix them, and we’re going to (be) stronger.”
Of course, as positive as this development is, it still only represents a band-aid solution. At least 45 Flint children have already tested positive for damaging levels of lead in their blood, with many more cases likely not yet confirmed. And $28 million sounds like a lot – until we consider that Gov. Snyder has already estimated, in a letter to President Barack Obama, that repairs and replacements to the Flint water system would cost an estimated $767,419,500.
That’s not pocket change, and only $2 million of the new crisis funds have been dedicated to the Flint water system itself; that’s 0.26 percent of the necessary funding to replace the water system in Flint, for anyone keeping track.
Speculation is that the Flint water system may have been damaged “beyond repair,” and that the system will likely require a complete replacement; this is what has driven the estimated costs so high. Last week, President Obama announced another $80 million in federal funding, earmarked to help Michigan improve its water infrastructure, but that still only represents about 10 percent of what Flint alone needs; taking into account the needs of all of Michigan, that target only gets further away.
Meanwhile, Senate is attempting to get Flint much closer to its goals; U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, from Michigan, along with Congress Rep. Dan Kilbee, proposed legislation to send up to $400 million in federal funding to specifically address the Flint water system, plus an additional $200 million earmarked to address lead exposure issues in the population. Unfortunately, the legislature is still only proposed, and it still has to make it through both Senate and Congress; meanwhile, other senators have gone on record that they feel the Flint water crisis is a local issue and will oppose attempts to dedicate federal funding to it.
But for every moment of hesitation, the costs and consequences grow. Flint is now living on bottled water, which doesn’t come cheap, and the longer medical treatment is delayed, the more costly it will ultimately become. Governor Snyder asserts that it would be irresponsible for the nation not to act.
“This is a hidden problem that we’ve ignored not just in Flint, not just in Michigan, but nationally far too long. So let’s do something about it.”
“There was a failure at the local, state and federal level… we have a crisis in Flint. We have a situation where people cannot drink the water coming out of the tap. That’s wrong. Worse than that, people were exposed to lead. … That shouldn’t happen.”
The $28 million in emergency funding is allocated as follows:
- $4.6 million for bottled water, filters and replacement cartridges.
- $3. 9 million to treat children with high blood-lead levels.
- $3 million to help the city with unpaid water bills.
- $2 million for Flint water system needs.
- $2 million for “early on” assessments and special education services in the county school district and to hire a psychologist.
- $2 million for Michigan National Guard support for three months.
- $1.6 million for child/adolescent health centers and health programs.
- $1.5 million for field operations costs.
- $1.1 million for nutrition support, food banks and community education.
- $1 million for nutrition education and screening.
- $500,000 for nurse services.
- $500,000 to conduct an infrastructure integrity study with outside experts.
- $500,000 for mental health crisis counseling.
[Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images]