Months after the Flint, Michigan water crisis emerged, residents still can’t obtain clean drinking water straight from their taps. That may be set to change as the Senate just passed a bill providing $170 million to replace lead-contaminated pipes in the beleaguered city. But the victory could come at the cost of environmental harm in California. Policymakers inserted a rider, or addition, to the bill allowing more Bay-Delta estuary water to irrigate farms, which some environmentalists fear could harm estuary wildlife.
Many Flint residents have been waiting for safe, clean water since 2014. With federal government money, the city is expected to replace 29,000 service lines. Although 96 percent of samples from high-risk Flint houses met federal standards for lead, according to state officials speaking this month, the crisis has not yet been fully resolved. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said people will only be confident in the water when old lead infrastructure is replaced. The new government money could enable the city to at last put any fears to rest.
But not everyone is pleased with the Senate legislation. The bill providing relief to Flint includes an addition allowing more Bay-Delta water to irrigate drought-afflicted farms. According to The Guardian, the bill could make way for new desalination projects and dams. As she spoke against the bill, California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer said, “You’re destroying the Endangered Species Act,” but California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who wrote the bill with California Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy, said the legislation was the best they could do after working for three years.
The organization Defenders of Wildlife issued a statement saying the rider hurt wildlife like Delta smelt and salmon. Scott Slesinger, Natural Resources Defense Council legislative director, also condemned the bill. He said in a statement, “Federal funding to help begin fixing the pipes at the heart of the Flint water crisis is shamefully overdue. This is a start, but far more is needed to fix Flint and ensure safe drinking water to communities across America. We should not have to trade delinquent Congressional action in Michigan for the erosion of endangered species protection and a threat to fishing jobs in California, but that is the result of the partisan games at play in this bill.”
Via The Guardian