The Environmental Protection Agency agreed Tuesday with a Michigan plan to forgive more than $20 million owed by the city of Flint, Mich., for fighting the lead drinking water crisis that became a national issue during last year's presidential campaign.
"Forgiving Flint's past debt will better protect public health and reduce the costs associated with maintaining the city's water system over time," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.
The action also would support President Trump's infrastructure agenda, he said.
"Rebuilding our nation's infrastructure is one of the President's top priorities, and EPA is especially focused on those communities, like Flint, that need it the most," Pruitt said in a statement. "Forgiving the city's debt will ensure that Flint will not need to resume payments on the loan, allowing progress toward updating Flint's water system to continue."
Tuesday's step falls in line with the passage of the May 2017 Consolidated Appropriation's Act that was signed by Trump and will help Flint and the EPA "continue working together to protect public health and improve the city's water system," said EPA.
The money was used to help Flint upgrade its drinking water infrastructure in collaboration with EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program. The EPA program is a federal-state partnership by which the state provides 20 percent of the total amount in funding required for a project. In 2016, the program provided more than $32.5 billion to states, according to the agency's website.
The EPA said Tuesday that recent test results showed that lead levels in Flint's water are "well below" the minimum safe drinking level.
"We appreciate the continued partnership and support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency," said Gov. Rick Snyder. "The loan forgiveness being extended to Flint will allow for state funding to be spent on high priority infrastructure needs that maintain recent water quality improvements and address public health concerns."