Under a proposed settlement announced Monday, the state of Michigan will pay $47 million to replace lead pipes in Flint and distribute free bottled water to residents.
The water crisis in Flint started in 2014, when the city changed its water source to the Flint River, which was contaminated and exposed residents to lead. In 2016, several activists filed a lawsuit against the state, saying officials violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the settlement will be reviewed Tuesday by a U.S. district judge in Detroit. In addition to the $47 million, which will be used to replace lead and galvanized steel pipes with copper service lines at 18,000 residences, bottled water will be delivered to people who are unable to leave their homes and provided at water distribution centers operating every day except Sunday. Flint residents will also still be able to have their tap water tested for free for the next four years, up to four times annually.
The state has already budgeted $40 million to cover the water crisis and set aside $10 million for any unexpected expenses. Earlier this month, Michigan was awarded a $100 million emergency grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade Flint's infrastructure; the grant was approved by Congress in December and signed into law by former President Barack Obama. Michigan State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint called the settlement "very fair," and said he has received "assurances" the city will get enough money to replace all of its lead pipes over the next several years. "I'm gonna hold them to that," he told The Detroit News. "We'll make sure that the resources are there."