Press Release

Flint Safe Water Case Update: 2019 Terms Will Improve Efficiency in Pipe-Replacement Program

Margie Kelly
mkelly@nrdc.org, (541) 222-9699

Flint, MI ­– The City of Flint agreed to use a data-driven approach to finding the remaining lead pipes delivering drinking water to residents’ homes, as part of the landmark legal settlement directing the City’s response to the water crisis. Today, the parties asked the Court to approve an agreement imposing detailed requirements to improve the efficiency of the City’s pipe replacement program to ensure that all remaining lead pipes are identified and removed.   

The parties to the settlement in Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khouri agreed that the City will use a statistical model developed by Dr. Eric Schwartz of the University of Michigan and Dr. Jacob Abernethy at the Georgia Institute of Technology to guide its selection of homes for service line excavations in 2019. The City previously successfully used the model to guide its pipe-replacement efforts in 2017.

“Our primary goal continues to be getting the remaining lead pipes out of Flint as quickly as possible. This is a critical step towards accomplishing that,” said Pastor Allen C. Overton of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, one of the plaintiffs in the case. 

“This agreement will refocus and improve the City’s pipe replacement program. The commitment to use a statistical model with a proven track record of success will help protect Flint residents from further lead exposure,” said Sarah Tallman, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Under the agreement, the City will prioritize service line excavations based on a list of as many as 5,200 addresses with the highest likelihood of having a lead or galvanized steel service line, as determined by Drs. Schwartz and Abernethy’s predictive model. The City must conduct excavations and service line replacements at homes on the priority list before conducting any other excavations, subject to limited exceptions. The agreement also requires monthly reporting from the City on its progress and use of funding for the project.

“The safety of Flint residents continues to be our foremost concern. This agreement will focus the City on one goal: ensuring that no lead service lines are left in the ground. We are ready to finish what we started when we brought this case more than three years ago,” said Melissa Mays, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

“We are optimistic that the new terms will allow all Flint residents to realize the full potential of the City’s promise to find and replace all lead and galvanized steel pipes in Flint, on time and within budget,” said Bonsitu Kitaba, an attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in the case.

Background:

Flint’s lead pipe water settlement of 2017 is the result of a lawsuit Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khouri filed by Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Flint resident Melissa Mays, NRDC and the ACLU of Michigan. The agreement secured clear, specific steps the City must take to address the water crisis in Flint. It requires the state of Michigan to pay for and the city to complete thousands of lead service line replacements in Flint within three years at no cost to Flint residents. The settlement agreement also requires the state to provide filters and filter-installation services to residents; offers tap water monitoring above and beyond the requirements of federal regulations; and requires the city, state, and MDEQ to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Emergency Administrative Order.

For a copy of the agreement, please contact Margie Kelly at mkelly@nrdc.org

Additional Resources:

City Misleads Flint Residents: Thousands of Lead Pipes Likely Remain in Flint

NRDC Flint Water Crisis

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

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