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Attorneys ask federal judge for more data from Flint's pipe replacement program

Dec 28, 2017

The city of Flint has replaced more than 6,000 lead service lines
Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio/NPR

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit claim the city of Flint is not abiding by the terms of an agreement that opened the door to nearly $100 million in funding for the city's water crisis recovery efforts. 

Earlier this year, a group of Flint residents and advocacy groups reached a settlement with the city and the state of Michigan over replacing thousands of damaged lead pipes. 

The settlement agreement included a commitment to replace 18,000 lead service lines. The pipes connecting Flint homes and businesses to city water mains were damaged by water not properly treated to reduce corrosion starting in April, 2014. The damaged pipes leached lead into the city's drinking water. The amount of lead being found in Flint's drinking water has declined since the city's water source was switched and additional anti-corrosion chemcials have been added to Flint's tap water. However, lead can still be found in higher than normal levels in some Flint homes. 

In a motion filed in federal court this week, attorneys representing the Flint residents claim the city has "repeatedly failed to...submit timely, accurate, and complete status reports" about the pipe replacement program. 

The city routinely reports how many lead service lines have been replaced, with more than 6,000 so far. 

But the plaintiff's attorneys claim the city is not disclosing other important information, like the addresses of residents who've refused to grant permission to replace lead pipes. 

The plaintiffs are asking a federal judge to impose a more extensive reporting and certification process to be overseen by the court. 

In a press release, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says city officials remain committed to removing all lead and galvanized service lines:

"It is important to note, nothing in the motion filed yesterday jeopardizes, in any way, the city's efforts or the funding commitments included in the settlement agreement for service line replacements.  the motion deals only with proposed changes to how the status reports are provided, which to date, the City has worked collaboratively to adhere to."

Under the original settlement agreement, the state of Michigan committed $87 million to the pipe replacement program, with an additional $10 million in reserve. $30 million of that money came from a federal appropriation approved by Congress in the waning days of the Obama administration and authorized under the Trump Administration.  

This story has been updated.