Activists sue to replace Flint, Mich., water lines

By Amy R. Connolly

FLINT, Mich., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A group of Flint, Mich., activists filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday to demand the city's water lines be replaced with no cost to local residents after toxic levels of lead were found in the city's drinking water supply.

The coalition says city and state leaders have repeatedly violated the federal Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to operate and maintain anti-corrosive treatments on the lead water pipes, adequately monitor household tap water for lead, and correctly report any problems. The complaint was filed by Concerned Pastors for Social Action, the Michigan American Civil Liberties Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council and local resident Melissa Mays.


The lawsuit asks the judge to require the state and other defendants to replace the water supply lines, including portions of the system that are privately owned, and comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act by following treatment, monitoring, reporting and notification requirements. Flint has some 33,000 water service lines. About 15,000 are estimated to be made of lead.

"I joined this lawsuit because I no longer believe the city of Flint and the state of Michigan can solve Flint's water crisis and return safe drinking water to our homes. For years the state told us we were crazy, that our water was safe, which wasn't true. For the sake of my kids and the people of Flint, we need a federal court to fix Flint's water problems because these city and state agencies failed us on their own," Mays said.


The state declared the contaminated water a public health crisis in early October but have yet to replace the lines. Instead, residents are living off bottled water. Gov. Rick Snyder's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said it is working to repair the lines.

"The governor's $28 million supplemental budget request includes funding dedicated to infrastructure, and [the] governor expects to have additional resources in the budget recommendation in the coming weeks," Dave Murray, the governor's spokesman, said.

The city was thrust into the national spotlight after researchers found some Flint children had elevated levels of lead in their blood. The city changed its water supply in 2014 from Lake Huron to the Flint River, which was never treated before it reached households, causing lead from plumbing and pipes to leach.

The lawsuit is not seeking monetary damages but is calling for "equitable relief to mitigate the health and medical risks and harm resulting from defendants' violations" and attorneys fees.

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