Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khouri
In January 2016, NRDC, Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the ACLU of Michigan, and Flint, Michigan, resident Melissa Mays filed a lawsuit against the city of Flint and Michigan state officials for unlawfully exposing the people of Flint to lead-contaminated drinking water. Our lawsuit claimed that Flint’s water system violated the Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to control and monitor residents’ drinking water for lead—a devastating neurotoxin that can severely impact the cognitive development of children. We sought a court order requiring city and state officials to replace all lead service lines in Flint at no cost to residents as well as to properly treat and monitor the city’s drinking water moving forward. Prior to filing the lawsuit, NRDC and other groups submitted an emergency petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for immediate action to address this lead-contamination crisis. After the EPA failed to respond for months to this threat to Flint residents’ health, we filed suit under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Over the course of the case, NRDC and our partners successfully defeated two efforts by Flint and Michigan officials to dismiss the lawsuit. We also secured a landmark preliminary injunction order that required the city and state to ensure that every resident had either a properly installed faucet filter or sufficient amounts of bottled water for the duration of Flint’s water crisis.
On March 28, 2017, the parties reached a settlement agreement. It required Michigan to provide $97 million to Flint for the removal of lead and galvanized steel service lines; a comprehensive tap water monitoring program, including funding for an independent monitor to confirm that Flint’s lead levels are being properly measured and reported; a faucet filter installation and education program that included regular home visits through 2018 to ensure proper filter installation and maintenance; bottled water to be made available for pickup and delivery through the summer of 2017; and guaranteed state funding for at least seven health and medical programs through the fall of 2018. In February 2019, the agreement was amended to require the city to use a more efficient method for finding the remaining lead service lines. The terms of the settlement are enforceable in federal court, and NRDC and our partners have successfully obtained multiple court orders holding Flint to its obligations under the settlement.
Implementation of the settlement continues. Pursuant to the agreement, as of November 2020, the city has confirmed the material of more than 26,000 water service lines, replaced nearly 10,000 service lines, and committed to identifying and replacing any remaining galvanized steel and lead service lines in the city. NRDC and our partners continue to oversee the city’s work to make sure that all Flint residents obtain the benefits guaranteed to them by the settlement.
Demand for the removal of toxic lead water pipes quickly and equitably!