Flint Sets New Deadline to Replace Lead Water Pipes by September 2022
Court Must Approve Agreement Between Flint and Water Lawsuit Parties
Flint, MI – The City of Flint agreed to complete identifying and replacing the remaining residential lead water pipes at no cost to residents by September 2022, in an agreement approved by Flint City Council last month. It is estimated there are about 1,900 homes where the city must still conduct additional pipe replacement work under the agreement; thousands more homes await lawn restoration.
Flint’s lead service line removal program was established by a 2017 court order issued in a landmark citizen suit to address the massive contamination of the city’s drinking water. The deadline extension agreement must be approved by the federal court.
“While it is frustrating that it has taken so long to get the lead and galvanized steel service lines out of the ground in Flint, it is important that we make sure everything is done properly, safely, and that no home is left behind. Removing lead service lines is a crucial step in replacing Flint's damaged infrastructure and getting us one step closer to a recovery,” said Melissa Mays, one of the plaintiffs in the federal drinking water case and Operations Manager of Flint Rising.
“Failure is not an option in Flint. We want every home to have their wrecked lead pipes removed, so the healing of our community can continue,” said Pastor Allen C. Overton of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, one of the plaintiffs in the federal drinking water case.
Flint has excavated 26,886 pipes to determine whether they are lead; 10,088 lead pipes have been replaced. Out of the estimated 1,900 homes that still need pipe replacement work under the agreement, about 1,400 have not yet received the required outreach from the city; 400 residents have consented to have their homes’ water service lines excavated but the city has not yet performed the work; and 100 homes have known lead service lines that need to be replaced, based on Flint city records. Work to restore lawns at all homes that had their service lines excavated under the program will continue after the September 2022 deadline. Under the previous agreement, it was expected the city would complete all work by November 2020.
The Flint water crisis provided the nation and the world a glimpse into the frailty of aging water infrastructure in Flint and beyond. In December, Congress passed infrastructure legislation that allocated $15 billion dollars to fund President Biden’s call to replace “every lead pipe in the nation.”
“The injustice of Flint’s water crisis changed this country and inspired other communities nationwide to support the President’s call to remove lead pipes. NRDC remains committed to securing safe drinking water for Flint, no matter how long it takes,” said Cyndi Roper, a senior policy advocate with NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
On April 25, 2014, officials looking to save money switched Flint, Michigan’s drinking water supply, and then failed to treat the highly corrosive water properly, unleashing massive lead contamination of the city’s drinking water. The entire city of roughly 100,000, including 9,000 children, was exposed to lead, a neurotoxin dangerous in any amount.
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 at no cost to Flint residents. The settlement agreement also required 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 Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Emergency Administrative Order.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) 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.