Is the end in sight for the Flint water crisis?
The settlement requires Michigan to provide at least $87 million, with an extra $10 million in reserve, to inspect and replace the pipes as well as provide the plaintiffs with $895,000 to recover legal fees.
The national outrage and outpouring of support for the city after its lead contamination was publicized two years ago has led to substantial changes for the community’s water system, says Virginia Tech engineering professor Marc Edwards, who was one of the first people to identify the water contamination crisis in Flint.
"Flint has actually been meeting all federal water safety standards for at least 6 months, and in similar situations, residents of other cities in the US are routinely told that their water is ‘safe’ to drink, even without filtration," Dr. Edwards tells The Christian Science Monitor via email.
About $30 million of the settlement will be paid out of $100 million in federal funds from an Obama-era law signed in December 2016.
"It provides a comprehensive framework to address lead contamination in Flint’s tap water."
The lead crisis in Flint began in April 2014, when a state-appointed emergency manager switched the city’s water supply from Detroit water to the Flint River as a temporary cost-cutting measure.
"The Flint crisis is more than just water lacking corrosion control, but also the corroded lead pipes," he tells the Monitor via email.
Dr. Feigl-Ding, who is also the founder of Toxin Alert, a non-profit network and public alert system for toxic drinking water contamination, notes that many Flint residents have already suffered health problems from lead poisoning.
Virginia Tech’s Edwards says that the settlement represents an important step forward for Flint – and for communities across the country struggling with similar water problems.
"This new ‘Flint Standard’ should be considered for many other cities with old infrastructure, who currently have even worse lead in water problems than Flint."