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US Senators Agree on Remedy for Flint Water Crisis

FILE - The Flint, Michigan, water tower is seen in a Feb. 5, 2016, photo. Flint is under a public health emergency after its drinking water became tainted when the city switched from the Detroit system and began drawing from the Flint River in 2014 to save money.

Senators from both major U.S. political parties have tentatively agreed to remediate the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

The agreement would authorize $170 million in grants and loans to replace the city's lead-contaminated water pipes and other infrastructure and allocate $50 million for lead-prevention programs nationwide.

Democratic Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan and Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma agreed to the measure, which will be included in legislation known as the Water Resources Development Act. The bill is typically approved by Congress every few years to fund U.S. environmental development and maintenance projects.

This is the second time the senators have reached agreement on the Flint water crisis. They negotiated a nearly identical deal in February, but a larger water resources bill that included the measure was derailed.

The water crisis in the Midwestern city began in April 2014 when city officials switched Flint's water source in a money-saving move. Shortly thereafter, residents began to complain about the quality of the water, which was later determined to be tainted with lead.

Dangerously high levels of lead had been found in the blood of some residents, including children. They are particularly susceptible to lead exposure, which can cause lower IQs and behavioral problems.

The lead discovery prompted Governor Rick Snyder to announce in October 2015 that Flint would again get its water from its earlier source, the Detroit municipal system.

Since January 5, 2016, Genesee County, which includes Flint, has been under a state of emergency while residents use filters and bottled water.