The U.S. EPA has awarded Flint, Michigan, $100 million to improve its drinking water infrastructure as part of the water infrastructure bill approved by Congress last year.
The money, a grant through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, was announced March 17 and will be matched by $20 million in state funds. Of the total $120 million, $55.5 million will be made available for service line replacement, distribution and transmission improvements and corrosion control studies. The remaining $68.5 million for meter replacement and water treatment plant improvements is conditional upon the state’s completion of its application for the projects.
Recently, the city of Flint accepted bids to replace 6,000 lead service lines this year. About 800 lines have been replaced so far, and a total of 29,100 lines may need to be replaced following corrosive river water that allowed lead to leach from the city’s water pipes in 2014. The cost for replacing all the lines is expected to cost between $200 million and $400 million.
In a separate but related action, Michigan and Flint will be required to spend $97 million to replace Flint’s lead and galvanized iron pipes at no cost to the citizens under a legal settlement approved by a federal judge on March 28. The agreement, the result of a lawsuit brought by citizens and groups in Flint, will require the state to pay $47 million toward the replacements, with the remainder of the money coming from federal sources. The city must replace at least 18,000 pipes by 2020.
Under the agreement, the state will also go door-to-door to check on water filter status. The settlement does not require door-to-door bottled water delivery, as the plaintiffs requested, but it does require that bottled water be available at distribution centers at least through Sept. 1. The settlement will be overseen by the federal judge.