31 March, 2017
It gives the state until 2020 to replace Flint's ailing water system.
Three year's after Flint's water supply became contaminated with lead in a crisis that made global headlines, a federal judge today approved a settlement in which the state will pay $87 million for the City of Flint to identify and replace at least 18,000 unsafe water lines by 2020. The state has also agreed to keep federal funding above average for programs supporting women and children affected by the high levels of lead.
Under the settlement, they will get a schedule for water line replacements while the state gets a schedule for weaning Flint off the community resource stations where bottled water, water filters and filter replacement cartridges are now distributed free of charge.
Under the new agreement, pipes serving 18,000 homes will be replaced by January 2020.
Flint resident and activist Melissa Mays, a mother who was a key player in the lawsuit and has been at the forefront of Flint's water crisis, said the settlement was a testament to the strength of the people of Flint. These sites will be phased out as need and demand drops according to the settlement.
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 settlement agreement was approved by a federal judge on Tuesday.
Not all of the money will come out of the state's coffers, however. "I believe it is in the best interest of the citizens of Flint and the citizens of the state of MI".
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This week marked a turning point in the response to the Flint Water Crisis. The state of MI will continue to provide water filters.
The city is going after residential customers that haven't paid their water or sewer bills in more than a year, and have racked up past due accounts in the thousands of dollars. As a result, lead leached from old pipes and fixtures.
"By law, the city of Flint is required to collect payment from customers receiving water and sewer services", interim Chief Financial Officer David Sabuda said in the city's news release.
The water crisis in Flint began back in 2014. "The water issue must be resolved before we can make Flint thrive again, and I believe this resolution offers a path to a healthier, less traumatic future for everyone in Flint", said Pastor Allen Overton, of the Concerned Pastors for Social Action.
The state must also expand a program created to help residents install tap filters in their homes, fund water monitoring programs and guarantee funding for seven existing medical programs created to treat residents for health problems associated with lead exposure.
"We took the matter into our own hands", Overton said.