Clinton and Sanders to Debate in Flint, Michigan

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Federal State Of Emergency Declared In Flint, Michigan Over Contaminated Water Supply
A five-year-old Flint resident cries as her blood is taken to be tested for lead exposure.Photo: Brett Carlsen/2016 Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee and host CNN announced on Sunday that the March 6 Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will be held in Flint, Michigan. The choice is meant to draw attention to the plight of the city, which has endured a massive water crisis that has exposed its mostly poor, mostly black residents to toxic levels of lead and other contaminants. The crisis and the government failures that led to it were not mentioned at Saturday night’s Republican debate in New Hampshire. 

Hillary Clinton also visited Flint herself on Sunday to tour the city and speak with residents. While there she called on Congress to pass $200 million in funding to help replace the city’s poisoned water infrastructure. 

The Washington Post reported on Sunday that the full scale, schedule, and cost of restoring clean and safe water to Flint residents will be enormous:

Mayor Karen Weaver has estimated the cost of removing lead service lines from 15,000 homes at about $45 million. Combating the potential impact of lead poisoning in the 9,000 children exposed to tainted water starts at $100 million, according to Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician who is proposing the multifaceted program.

Overhauling Flint’s water­ distribution system, if necessary, could cost more than $1 billion, a tab only the federal government could pay.

Beyond the $28 million provided by the state and some private donations, it’s not clear where the money will come from. And everyone here acknowledges that there will be little progress until safe water begins flowing through the taps and people are persuaded to drink it. No one is even willing to guess when either will happen.

This post has been updated to include details about Hillary Clinton’s visit to Flint.