Michigan, Flint to replace 18000 lead-tainted water lines

The cost could be as high as $97 million with federal and state governments roughly splitting the bill.

The Detroit Free Press reports that, "the agreement calls for replacement of 6,000 lines by January 1, 2018, and at least 6,000 more lines each of the two following years, with all lines covered by the agreement replaced by January 1, 2020".

The court-ordered pipe replacement is unprecedented in the United States, said lead attorney Dimple Chaudhary of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and American Civil Liberties Union of MI sued the city and the state in 2016, on behalf of Flint's roughly 100,000 residents.

"We are not out of the woods yet", Mayor Karen Weaver then said in a statement to the New York Times.

Flint's water supply was tainted for at least 18 months after the city switched its water supply from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as a cost-cutting measure. Instead, if the deal is approved, Flint residents will be able to call the city's 211 number and order free water for delivery within 24 hours.

For decades, Flint paid Detroit to have its water piped in from Lake Huron, with anti-corrosion chemicals added along the way. The Department of Environmental Quality failed to treat the corrosive water, which ate into the city's iron and lead pipes, causing lead to leach into the drinking water.

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It also requires the state to continue to operate nine bottled water and filter distribution centers until at least May 1 and outlines procedures for closing them based on demand.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson will have a hearing at 1 p.m. ET Tuesday to consider the agreement, which was the result of mediation.

"I don't feel safe, period, anymore", Jones, a Flint apartment resident, said by phone.

In February, officials said that since March, they had replaced service lines at just 780 homes. However, the agreement codifies the State's commitment to put things right.

Residents who get new water lines will be urged to continue using a filter for six months. There will be no cost for replacement cartridges or household testing kits.

Flint, Michigan, has been in the throes of a water crisis since 2014.

A commitment from the state to monitor a sampling of homes before and after service line replacements and the appointment of a third party monitor to test a minimum of 100 homes for at least three years.

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