Tester discusses importance of clean drinking water

by Keeley Van Middendorp

GREAT FALLS – CBS News reports while the city of Flint and Genesee County is still under a state of emergency, additional state and federal funding efforts are underway. 

Senator Jon Tester spoke with MTN News during at a recent appearance during the Montana Rural Water Systems State Conference in Great Falls about current state and federal funding efforts towards the Flint water crisis.

“Water’s very, very important it’s one of the reasons I’m here at this convention,” Sen. Tester said. “People understand how important water is, and people understand how important clean drinking water is, what happened in Flint is flat unacceptable.”

Funding efforts continued last Thursday when the Michigan House of Representatives approved $30 million to cover Genesee County and Flint resident water bills from 2014 through this spring.

The bill is pending final legislative approval. The funds are estimated to pay for 65% of the water bills.
“We’re working on a package to help finance a rebuild, at least a partial rebuild, of that water system,” Sen..Tester explained. “They saved about a million bucks pulling out of the Great Lakes and putting it in the River, that little mistake is gonna end up costing a billion dollars in total.”

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has estimated the cost of replacing the water infrastructure at $1.5 billion. While there’s still a long road ahead, legislators say they’re making progress.

Along with the $30 million the House approved last week, Governor Rick Snyder announced a $2 million grant will be available to start replacing lead pipes in several hundred Flint homes within the next 30 days.

However the funding first requires Flint city and financial officials take action in order to complete the grant process.

While legislators continue efforts to relieve the crisis, members from various liberal groups delivered a petition to the governor’s office last Thursday with an estimated one million signatures calling for Snyder’s resignation and prosecution.

“That isn’t the Montana way, you got to figure this out, you can’t be poisoning people out there. That’s totally irresponsible and there was more than one person who dropped the ball on this and they should be held accountable,” Sen.Tester told MTN News.

According to the state of Michigan website, the state has sent the city of Flint a total of $39.3 million towards the water crisis since October 2, 2015. This amount does not including the most recent $30 million funding bill or the $2 million grant awaiting legislative approval.