Flint to get new pipes after $87 million settlement

A federal judge approved a settlement agreement Tuesday which will require the state of MI and the city of Flint to replace the city's lead pipes within three years.

Flint's water was tainted with lead for at least 18 months, as the city tapped the Flint River but didn't treat the water to reduce corrosion.

Recent tests showed lead levels in the water to be within federal limits, though residents are still advised to use filters. Then, city officials discovered that corroded supply pipes had been leaching lead into Flint's water, according to Michigan Live. Nearly 100,000 residents were exposed to the bad water, including 30,000 school children.

On, March 24, 2016, the Plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, asking the court to direct the delivery of bottled water to people's homes, as many Flint residents can not obtain water for their daily needs due to transportation or other access issues. While the settlement provides for commitments to many different resources, the state will continue striving to work on many priorities to ensure the city of Flint has a positive future, including economic development, job placement and riverfront revitalization.

Flint's water crisis drew worldwide headlines and prompted a state of emergency after high levels of lead were found in the blood of local children. Four state and local officials have resigned, and at least a dozen criminal cases were filed.

The lawsuit was filed a year ago by a coalition of religious, environmental and civil rights activists, who insisted the Flint water was not safe to drink because state and city officials were violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. The group sued Flint and MI on behalf of residents, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of MI.

MI will set aside $87 million of state and federal money for the pipe replacements, and an additional $10 million of federal funds will be available in reserves. The state will keep another $10 million in reserve for costs that exceed expectations.

The proposed settlement includes a timeline. A court ruled to replace water lines by 2020 - but the damage has already been done. The agreement also guarantees services like on-demand bottled water delivery within 24 hours, increased availability of water-filter consultants to residents, Medicaid expansions through March 2021, and independent monitoring of the water lines after their re-installment by the state.

A hearing to approve the settlement agreement has been scheduled for Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Detroit.

  • Zachary Reyes