Senate approves bill for water projects; millions for Flint - WNEM TV 5

Senate approves bill for water projects; millions for Flint

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    Thursday, September 15 2016 5:41 PM EDT2016-09-15 21:41:36 GMT
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    As work continues to replace lead pipes across the city of Flint, the water that flows through them will still be coming from Detroit for a while.

    More >

    As work continues to replace lead pipes across the city of Flint, the water that flows through them will still be coming from Detroit for a while.

    More >

The Senate has approved a $10 billion water projects bill that includes money for Flint, Michigan -- nearly a year after a public health emergency was declared there because of lead-contaminated water.

Senators approved the bill by a 95-3 vote. It goes to the House, where approval of a similar bill -- minus the Flint provision -- is expected as soon as next week.

The bipartisan measure would authorize 29 projects in 18 states for dredging, flood control and other projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Senate bill includes $100 million in grants and loans to replace lead-contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities with lead emergencies, as well as $50 million to test water for lead in schools and $70 million for water infrastructure loans.

Some groups want a federal judge to force the state to pay for more home delivery, contending there are still many people who are unable to get bottled water and filters.

Sherri Gross, Flint resident, has no running water. She said her landlord ripped out the meter. Gross said she can't afford to put in a new one or pay the $325 deposit to get the water flowing again. As a result, she relied on bottled water for everything.

During the water crisis Gross was forced to rely on a small red wagon to transport her bottled water from the distribution sites to her home.

"I do my clothes. I do my dishes. Mop my floors, my dogs, my cats and my birds all have to have water," Gross said.

Officials said nearly 20 percent of Flint residents don't have transportation to get free water.

State Senator Jim Ananich believes more needs to be done to help them, much more.

"I think it could've been a lot more comprehensive. It could've been a lot more people centered, but unfortunately so much of the state's response has been based on press releases not on helping people. This was a problem that was caused through 100 percent state failing and they have a responsibility to make it right," Ananich said.

Bridget Spencer oversees the state;s response to the water crisis. She said her staff makes water deliveries to about 70 homes per day and 1,200 homes per week. She said they are constantly monitoring the list of those in need, responding to calls for help within 24 hours.

Spencer vows to do everything in her power to help people in her hometown.

"As long as there's a need for water and filters to get to the residents of Flint, the weekly delivery service will be there," she said.

Gross is a happy recipient of that service. She is grateful her days of carting around water are over.

"If it wasn't for her, I'd still be down in the dumps. But she's really helpful," Gross said.

Congressman Dan Kildee issued the following statement:

“Today the Senate voted 95-3 to pass the Water Resources Development Act, which includes $100 million in funding for water infrastructure in Flint. This funding is a significant step in spurring Flint’s recovery. I will continue to work with Senators Stabenow and Peters, along with any Republicans willing to help, to ensure that money for Flint’s families reaches the President’s desk.

“Now it is incumbent on Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s bipartisan leadership and support Flint families using any available avenue. Throughout the crisis, I have worked closely with my Democratic colleagues and engaged with Republican leadership to help Flint. It is time for Congress to step up and help the people of Flint.”

Ananich released the following statement:

"The funding just approved by the U.S. Senate could make a big dent in the task of getting more lead pipes out of the ground. We need the U.S. House to come together in a bipartisan way to get this to the finish line, and for the state to maintain and grow its commitment so that Flint residents can once again trust the safety of water coming out of their tap."

U.S. Senator Gary Peters spoke on the Senate Floor Thursday in regards to the Senate passing the act.

“We should have provided funding to fix Flint’s water infrastructure long ago, but today we’ve taken a meaningful step toward a future where the people of Flint – and communities across America – can turn on the taps and trust that it is safe to use the water."

Copyright 2016 WNEM (Meredith Corporation)/Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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