March 28 (UPI) -- The state of Michigan will spend $87 million to replace contaminated water pipes in the city of Flint, a proposed agreement says.
The mediated agreement will be reviewed by U.S. District Judge David Lawson in a hearing on Tuesday. The settlement includes state and federal funds dedicated to identifying and replacing at least 18,000 unsafe city water lines.
Under the settlement, the state will provide free bottled water and water filters for residents, and extensive testing for lead in the city's drinking water. Residents with elevated lead levels in their blood will also continue to receive case management services, and plaintiffs in the lawsuit will get $895,000 to cover litigation costs.
Replacement of pipes will be completed by January 2020, the agreement states.
A cost-cutting measure in which the city's supply of drinking water was changed from Lake Huron water, treated in Detroit, to Flint River water, treated at the Flint Water Treatment Plant, led to lead contamination of the city's water in April 2014. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality acknowledged it failed to require the use of corrosion-control chemicals as part of the treatment process.
Lead in the city's water caused an increase in toxic lead levels found in blood samples of Flint residents. The city returned to Detroit water in 2015, but risks remained because of damage to the water infrastructure.
Dimple Chaudhary of the National Resources Defense Council, one of the plaintiffs in the 2016 legal case, commented "This proposed agreement is a win for the people of Flint. It provides a comprehensive framework to address lead contamination in Flint's tap water. The agreement is a significant step forward for the Flint community, covering a number of critical issues related to water safety," The New York Times reported.