A union fund has said it will bring $25 million in low-cost loans to help replace lead-contaminated pipes in the city’s water system, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver announced late Sunday.
The funding would go a long way toward boosting the Michigan mayor’s $55 million “Fast Start” program.
The initiative aims to remove and replace Flint’s residential lead pipes, starting with residences for at-risk groups, such as pregnant women, children 5 and younger, seniors, people with compromised immune systems and homes where testing shows high lead levels.
“The people of Flint have been waiting for action to remove lead tainted lines,” Weaver said in a statement. “On March 4, I was pleased that we pulled and replaced the first lead line. This investment from union pension funds means that we can move forward to remove more lead lines and renew Flint’s infrastructure. I am very grateful to ULLICO (Union Labor Life Insurance Company) and AFT (American Federation of Teachers) for putting this idea crafted at the Clinton Global Initiative into action in our community.”
Last year, researchers and medical personnel discovered high levels of lead in Flint residents, especially children. Lead has been tied to a host of medical problems.
The problem occurred after the city switched its water source about two years ago to cut costs. Flint used to buy Lake Huron water through the city of Detroit but the state ordered the source changed to water from Flint River.
In January, the governor declared a state of emergency, and the city switched water suppliers again. Now the mayor is leading the way to replace the water pipes.
Weaver’s announcement on funding was made as the water crisis in Flint was being debated on the national stage at CNN’s Democratic debate.