Coalition wants judge to intervene in Flint water deal

The Detroit News

A coalition of religious, environmental and civil rights activists filed a motion Wednesday asking a federal judge to enforce a legal settlement requiring state and Flint officials to replace lead pipes and take other steps to ensure safe drinking water for city residents.

Under the settlement, reached in March, the state agreed to spend as much as $97 million to address Flint’s lead-contamination crisis by replacing lead and galvanized steel pipes in residents’ homes and providing free bottled water and faucet filters.

The agreement resolved a 2016 lawsuit that alleged Flint water was not safe to drink because state and city officials were violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. The suit was filed by a group led by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the ACLU of Michigan, Concerned Pastors for Social Action and Flint resident Melissa Mays.

The plaintiffs’ motion asks U.S. District Judge David Lawson to require the city “to submit timely, accurate, and complete status reports” on its progress in replacing thousands of lead service lines with copper pipes.

The groups accuse the city of providing late and incomplete reports on pipe replacements and the installation of faucet filters afterward.

The complaint also says the city is not adequately maintaining lists of residents who have refused to have their lead or steel lines replaced and is failing to track new water accounts to ensure those customers have properly installed water filters.

“Plaintiffs do not seek relief such as contempt sanctions or civil penalties that may harm the City’s other functions,” the filing says. “Plaintiffs instead request as a remedy a more extensive reporting and certification process, overseen by the Court, to ensure that the City provides Plaintiffs with the information needed to make the Agreement work as all the parties and the Court intended.”