Michigan to Replace Water Lines to Thousands of Homes

The state of Michigan will pay $87 million to replace water lines to thousands of homes in lead-contaminated Flint under a settlement agreement submitted Monday. A hearing to approve the settlement agreement was scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

If Judge David Lawson OKs the deal, the Flint and Michigan governments would be obligated to dig up, inspect and replace lead or galvanized-steel water lines leading to at least 18,000 homes by Jan. 1, 2020. The state agreed to set aside an additional $10 million for unexpected extra expenses. That’s a total of $97 million the state is committing — equal to almost all of the $100 million in funds set aside for Flint earlier this month by the Environmental Protection Agency under legislation signed in December by President Barack Obama.

There was no immediate comment from any of the parties to the suit, whom Lawson had placed under a gag order. Flint’s water crisis began as a cost-cutting measure in 2014, when the city switched its water source from Detroit’s municipal service to water from the Flint River, which it treated itself. Unlike Detroit’s, the Flint system didn’t use chemicals to inhibit materials in the water that accelerate corrosion in lead and iron pipework — potentially exposing the city’s 100,000 residents to lead and other contaminants.