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

FLINT, MI – Flint Mayor Karen Weaver made comments today about the status of the effort to rid the city of lead service lines which highlighted the number of excavations the city has overseen, rather than the number of actual lead lines replaced. The City is operating under a settlement that requires it to target excavations at homes most likely to have hazardous lead and steel pipes, but more than 80% of the City’s excavations this year were of homes with copper pipes. To date, the City has replaced only 7,700 lead and steel service lines, leaving University of Michigan experts to conclude that thousands of hazardous pipes likely remain in the ground.

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, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the ACLU of Michigan. Under the settlement, the City must seek out and remove Flint’s lead and galvanized steel pipes by 2020.

Following are reactions from groups associated with the lawsuit governing the replacement of lead service lines in Flint:

“It’s the number of lead pipes removed that matters, not the number of holes dug. The City needs to finish the job of finding and replacing the lead pipes in Flint, as our agreement demands that they do,” says Pastor Allen C. Overton of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, a plaintiff in the case. 

“The Mayor’s press conference today was misleading and inaccurate. The City is well aware that it has not fulfilled its obligations under the Concerned Pastors settlement. We fought for an agreement that requires the City to get the lead pipes out, not just dig holes,” said Dimple Chaudhary, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“Why should we congratulate the Mayor for digging up 18,000 holes, when she’s not even trying to find the dangerous lead pipes? The City is wasting time and money by digging up thousands of copper pipes while many lead pipes go unexcavated,” said Melissa Mays, plaintiff in the Concerned Pastors case.  


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 and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.​

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