LANSING, MICH. - The cost of the Flint drinking water crisis exceeds $140 million and is growing, Gov. Rick Snyder said in an appeal filed Thursday with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as he seeks more federal funds and other resources to assist with the state response to the public health and infrastructure emergency.
“While government and independent experts say the quality of the water is improving, there is a long road ahead for Flint’s recovery,” Snyder said in a news release. “We are continuously working on ways to help the people of Flint recover from this health crisis. Assistance from our federal partners could go a long way in moving Flint forward.”
Snyder in his appeal letter itemized some costs related to the lead contamination of the city's drinking water.
He said the crisis has an estimated economic impact of 4% loss in personal income to the local economy, which amounts to $115 million per year. He said costs incurred so far that should be eligible for federal reimbursement, including fixture repairs, water testing, health care, and the emergency operations center, amount to $26.5 million. On top of that, more than $2 million in donated goods have been put to use, Snyder said.
Snyder said in the letter the City of Flint incurred costs of $18.4 million trying to stabilize the water, even before Oct. 1, when the state first acknowledged a significant problem.
He said the Michigan Legislature has approved $67.4 million for Flint and he has requested additional appropriations of $165 million.
Snyder said the Thursday appeal relates to assistance that was denied under the governor's original request for declaration of a federal emergency and federal disaster. President Barack Obama approved the request for a federal emergency declaration, which allows up to $5 million in federal funding without congressional approval, but denied the request for a disaster declaration, which allows for greater federal funding but is reserved for natural disasters.
The appeal relates to what's known as Category B funding for emergency protective measures and the Individual and Households Program, Snyder said in the news release.
Category B funding would cover costs for provision of food and water and other essential needs, removal of health and safety hazards, activation of state or local emergency operations centers, and emergency measures to protect further damage, the release said. The Individuals and Households program can provide money for homeowners to repair damage from a disaster that is not covered by insurance, including septic or sewage systems and well or other water systems, the release said.
Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint and Genesee County on Jan. 5 after learning on Oct. 1 that Flint's drinking water was contaminated by lead. He asked for and received support from FEMA on Jan. 12. The governor requested the emergency and disaster declarations on Jan. 14 and Obama declared a federal emergency on Jan. 16.
On Jan. 26, Snyder requested a federal Medicaid waiver to expand health care for Flint residents and is awaiting an official response from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The governor's Jan. 27 request for a waiver to expand nutrition assistance in Flint to children between the ages of 5 and 10 was denied by the federal government on Jan. 29.
Flint's drinking water became contaminated with lead in April 2014 while the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has acknowledged it failed to require the addition of needed corrosion control chemicals to the water. As a result, lead leached from pipes, joints and fixtures into an unknown number of Flint households, causing a spike in the levels of toxic lead in an unknown number of Flint children.