Flint Water Crisis: City to Replace 18000 Lead-Tainted Water Pipes

A suit against the state of MI brought by Flint resident Melissa Mays and three nonprofit groups was settled yesterday for $97 million to be spent, among other things, on new water service lines to replace those that have been leaching lead into the city's water.

The state of MI will set aside $97 million for lead or galvanized steel water lines to be replaced in the City of Flint, according to a settlement filed Monday in US District Court.

MI will provide $87 million in a combination of state and federal money, according to the settlement; $47 million of that must come from sources other than Obama-era federal water infrastructure improvement funds. State officials have agreed to replace the city's lead water pipes by 2020.

Mays and three nonprofits-Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan-filed the lawsuit more than a year ago.

The crisis in Flint began in 2014, when state and local officials switched the city's drinking water supply as a cost-cutting measure.

The next year, researchers and medical personnel discovered high levels of lead in residents, especially children.

"While this does not fix everything, it's a good start", Mays said, stressing the immediate priority will be to get the lead pipes out of the ground.

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Corrosive water caused lead to leach from from joints, pipes and fixtures, causing a spike in toxic lead levels in the blood of Flint children and other residents.

Lead is not just a problem in Flint, and the crisis in the working-class, majority-Black city brought national attention to lead contamination in other cities across the country, fueling the movement for environmental justice.

"We are thrilled that, after almost three years of grappling with lead-poisoned water, the residents of Flint can finally look forward to a long-term solution to a catastrophe that has devastated the community", said Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of MI and a member of the council representing plaintiffs on the case. "The people of Flint are owed at least this much".

With that decision, the lawsuit, Concerned Pastors for Social Action et al v. Khouri et al, is dismissed.

The agreement also requires the state to maintain a door-to-door water filtration installation and education program and provide bottled water for residents.

In a letter written in November, acting EPA Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan told Mayor Karen Weaver that Jones was concerned "about chemicals being added to the Flint water for the objective of disinfection and corrosion control". "I don't know", she says.

  • Sidney Guerrero