Environmental leaders from around the country are in Gulfport this week for a meeting of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. MPB’s Evelina Burnett reports, water was one of the main topics of interest.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke to the council about a range of environmental justice issues, including the situation in Flint, Michigan. McCarthy said the issue in Flint is not just about lead in the water system. It is about the economic situation of the struggling city.
"This was all about money. It was a shift away from a really good source, to a not good source and not having it treated," she says. "It was all about money, so let's talk about money. Let's talk about the infrastructure investments that need to be made in this country, and stop pretending that what we've done through the decades was sufficient to protect us today and in the future."
The EPA's latest estimate showed, nationally, $384 billion in drinking water infrastructure improvements are needed through 2030. Heather McTeer Toney is the Regional Administrator for EPA’s Region 4, which includes Mississippi. She says the agency is trying to jump-start conversations about infrastructure challenges, especially in communities that don’t have the tax base to pay for the necessary improvements.
“I think it will yield us very good results in addressing it head on and try to identify funds to help communities that are not otherwise able to help themselves.”
The EPA report says Mississippi needs $3.7 billion dollars in water infrastructure improvements through 2030.