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  1. Florida Politics

Senate approves bill for water projects; millions for Flint

WASHINGTON — The Senate approved a $10 billion water projects bill Thursday that includes emergency funding for Flint, Mich. — nearly a year after officials declared a public health emergency because of lead-contaminated water.

Senators approved the bill 95-3. The measure now goes to the House, where approval of a similar bill — minus the Flint provision — is expected as soon as next week.

The Senate measure would authorize 29 projects in 18 states for dredging, flood control and other projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The bipartisan bill includes $100 million in grants and loans to replace lead-contaminated pipes in Flint and other cities with lead emergencies, as well as $50 million to test water for lead in schools and $70 million for water infrastructure loans.

Michigan's Democratic senators, Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters, welcomed the Flint measure, but said it comes too late, with city residents still using bottled water.

"The people of Flint have waited way too long" for help from the state and federal governments, Stabenow said. "This should never have happened. And we know it happened because of decisions made — bad decisions — at the state level."

Flint's drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit water system and began drawing from the Flint River in April 2014 to save money.

Regulators failed to ensure the water was treated properly and lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply. Elevated lead levels have been found in at least 325 people, including 221 children.

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