Michigan officials to request $12 million loan to upgrade water infrastructure in Flint

FLINT, Mich. — The Flint Department of Public Works plans to request roughly $12 million in funding to upgrade the city’s water supply infrastructure, news station WEYI-TV reported on Wednesday.

“We don't even know if we will make the grade, but we have to do an application,” Michael Brown, director of the city’s Department of Public Works, said at a city council meeting on Wednesday. “That's a 20 million gallon facility. We can only put about 18 million in it before it starts spilling water in different places because of some cracks, etc.”

City officials plan to apply for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which will be used to upgrade infrastructure such as the Cedar Reservoir and Pumping Station, near Cedar Street and Fenton Road, and the Northwest Transmission line on the city’s north side.

The request comes as the city continues to recover from the public health water crisis that started in 2014 after the drinking water in Flint, Michigan was contaminated with lead and possibly Legionella bacteria.

Brown explained that while the water is safe to drink, the funding will help water suppliers make the overdue repairs needed to meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“It’ll improve the quality of water in that once we get the new main taken care of, then there shouldn't be any main breaks on there for the next 30 to 50 years easily,” he added. “So that improves quality, because it keeps pressure in the lines.”

However, the loan request received pushback from Councilman Quincy Murphy of the 3rd Ward who said the loan would drive up water bills for residents.

“This is almost like the water crisis money that they finna get,” said Councilman Quincy Murphy of the 3rd Ward. “They’re going to end up having to give it back to us to pay for the water bill. Make it make sense.”

Likewise, Councilman Dennis Pfeiffer, 8th Ward attributed the water shutoffs with playing a role in the lack of finances to fund the repairs.

“Why should the people who pay have to now take on a $12 million loan, because of all this,” he said. “It's not fair.”

The council adjourned the meeting by approving a resolution for the city to move forward in applying for the loan.

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