Lawsuit Attacks Michigan’s Lead Drinking Water Protections

The challenge could harm the health of thousands of Michigan children, who are unknowingly exposed to lead in drinking water

LANSING, MI – In a lawsuit filed yesterday, cities and water utilities seek to invalidate Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, which established the most protective lead standard in the nation. Detroit’s Mayor Duggan and Oakland County Commissioner Jim Nash are leading the charge to undermine the rule Michigan enacted to prevent future Flint water crisis situations. 

The following is a reaction by prominent Michigan water advocates:

“The lessons of Flint have yet to be learned. The newly-adopted Michigan Lead and Copper Rule takes the first steps to protect residents from lead in drinking water and prevent future disasters. However, recent threats to this rule - rolling back essential drinking water protections - sets up the potential of many Flints to come. All Michigan kids need and deserve safe drinking water.” Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician, professor, and public health advocate. 

“This lawsuit is a full-bore attack on the health of thousands of children in Michigan who are at risk of lead poisoning. Local officials like Detroit’s Mayor Duggan and Oakland County Commissioner Jim Nash should stop fighting against protections for kids and instead join us in fighting for funds for lead pipes and other water infrastructure to protect kids who are unknowingly being exposed to lead in drinking water. Attacking this lead rule sets up the potential of many Flints to come and kids will continue drinking lead in their water indefinitely. Michigan officials should know better,” said Cyndi Roper, senior water advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

The Great Lakes Water Authority and the City of Livonia joined the suit filed in the Court of Claims, along with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department and the Oakland County Water Commission. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate the Lead and Copper Rule.

“Flint showed there are huge costs to not aggressively dealing with lead-contaminated water. As long as those aging lead lines are part of the system, there is an unacceptable economic and health risk. We need to make major investments in our drinking water system—the whole system, from the treatment plant to tap. Excluding the service lines undercuts all those other investments,” Roper added. 

Additional Resource:

Challenge to State Rules Stirs Up New Michigan Lead In Drinking Water Crisis (Dec. 11, 2018)


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, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC

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