February 10, 2016 (Flint, MI)– Flint Mayor Karen Weaver today said she appreciates Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to earmark $25 million for lead pipe removal in the city through a supplemental appropriation for 2016 but, Mayor Weaver noted it still falls short of the estimated $55 million it will cost to remove all lead pipes in the City’s water system.
She also said the funding included in the governor’s budget proposal for Flint water relief– to address testing, children’s nutrition and water system costs– is an important down payment toward alleviating the City’s water issues, brought on during Flint’s control by a state-appointed emergency manager.
“Job one for our City is to remove the lead pipes. Until that happens, Flint cannot move forward. Our citizens will not have confidence and trust in the water that comes from their faucets,” Weaver said.
“Gov. Snyder’s proposed supplemental appropriation is a down payment on lead pipe removal. We need more resources to complete the work and I urge the Legislature to move quickly in getting that money freed up so we can start work as quickly as possible,” she added.
Mayor Weaver called on state lawmakers to avoid adding unnecessary strings to that money to allow the City and other agencies to act as quickly as possible using local information to adapt to people’s needs.
She also noted that the long-term effects of lead poisoning means Flint residents, especially children, will need additional resources for years to come. “We need commitments for future funding, so that when the spotlight on the City dims, relief doesn’t end,” she said.
On Tuesday, Mayor Weaver announced the “Fast Start” plan to begin removing lead pipes quickly, is based on technical assistance and expertise from the Lansing Board of Water & Light, which has replaced most of Lansing’s lead service lines with new copper lines over the past decade. She is in Washington D.C. today to seek additional funding to close the gap between the governor’s proposal and the estimated $55 million cost of her Fast Start plan.
The Mayor’s call for the state and federal governments to cover the cost of removing all lead service lines in the cash-strapped City of Flint is the first step in her drive to make Flint a lead-free City, to give its citizens a chance to enjoy the same opportunities as those who live in areas not contaminated with lead and give the City a chance to rebound and rebuild from this crisis.
“Governor Snyder told Michigan during his State of the State speech he is committed to fixing the problem caused by the lead in our water pipes that poisoned our residents for more than a year,“ said Mayor Weaver. “Fixing it starts with removing the lead pipes that are a major contributor to the problem. I call on Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Legislature to make good on that promise and to fully fund our Fast Start program to Get the Lead Out of Flint.”