Safe Water for the People of Flint

After the State of Michigan stripped the residents of Flint of their ability to elect local representatives, state-appointed officials decided to use the Flint River as a water source without adding corrosion controls.  As a result, lead leached from the water pipes and poisoned the drinking water, causing untold harm to the people of Flint. 

ACLU of Michigan investigative journalist Curt Guyette helped to expose the water crisis, and the ACLU of Michigan and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a federal lawsuit against state and city officials seeking a court order requiring them to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.  The goal of the lawsuit, filed in January 2016, was to require the state and the city to replace the lead pipes and, in the meantime, ensure that officials deliver safe drinking water. 

In 2016, Judge David Lawson granted our request for door-to-door bottled water delivery and filter installation, and soon after recommended that the parties enter mediation.  In March 2017, we reached an unprecedented settlement for $97 million requiring the state and city to replace all lead and galvanized pipes throughout Flint in the next three years, allocate resources for health and wellness programs, continue door-to-door filter installation and education, and extensively monitor Flint’s tap water for lead. 

We continue to monitor compliance and, when necessary, file motions to enforce aspects of the settlement.  In 2017, we were required to ask the court to order that Flint comply with the agreement on filter installation, and in August 2018, the court held an evidentiary hearing on the question of whether the City has sufficient funds left to replace all the lead pipes. 

(Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khoury; ACLU Attorneys Michael J. Steinberg, Bonsitu Kitaba-Gaviglio and Brooke Tucker; Dimple Chaudhary, Sarah Tallman, and Jared Knicley of NRDC; co-counsel Glenn Simmington.)

Article, March 28, 2017: Flint’s lead water pipes to be replaced under proposed settlement in federal safe drinking water case

Press release, Dec. 16, 2016: Sixth Circuit denies State's request to halt Flint safe drinking water ruling

Press release, Nov. 11, 2016: Major legal win for water crisis victims as federal court orders bottled water delivery to Flint residents

Press release, July 8, 2016: Federal court rejects motion to dismiss Flint safe drinking water lawsuit

Article, June 9, 2016: Concerned pastors for Social Action v. Khouri: Safe water for Flint

Article, March 24, 2016: Groups ask federal court to order home water delivery in Flint, as tap water remains unsafe

Press release, Nov. 16, 2015: ACLU, Flint residents to sue City, State over lead in drinking water

Read our Fall 2018 Legal Docket.

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