Dianda introduces legislation to aid U.P. communities in crisis

LANSING – State Representative Scott Dianda (D-Calumet) introduced House Bill 5458 today to provide much-needed financial assistance to Upper Peninsula communities struggling with the frozen water lines crisis. Due to the extreme cold weather this winter and into the spring, thousands of U.P. residents are on “let run” orders to keep pipes from freezing and bursting, and local municipalities are being forced to cover numerous unforeseen expenses stemming from the deep frost. Dianda’s bill would designate $10 million in grants to communities in counties that have issued local states of emergency.

“To thaw pipes, local municipalities have gone well over budget hiring contractors to open problem spots with welding equipment. I am so very concerned about fire protection in the Upper Peninsula. If we have frozen fire hydrants, then public safety is at risk,” said Dianda. “As state government officials, it is our duty to help these struggling communities. We need to get them financial resources or they are going to go into the red.”

Despite the “let run” orders, many U.P. residents are without water, or receiving their water through garden hoses running from nearby buildings. Because of the freeze-thaw cycle, water mains are bursting at very high rates, a trend that is projected to continue through the spring. To help with the crisis, Gov. Rick Snyder today declared a state of emergency in Marquette County. This declaration primarily opens the door for the state to send people and equipment to the county. Additionally, several U.P. counties declared a local state of emergency, but did not seek a governor’s declaration.

“I applaud the U.P.’s local municipalities for going above and beyond the call of duty to keep their residents safe. These communities have done everything they can to keep water running, and have gone far over their budgets in the process,” said Dianda. “This bill would give back to those communities to ensure they have enough money to continue operating once this problem has passed.”