Federal judge finds Flint, Michigan, in contempt for missing water line replacement deadlines

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Federal judge finds Flint, Michigan, in contempt for missing water line replacement deadlines:-LANSING Mich.— A federal judge found the city of Flint in contempt of court for not meeting deadlines for replacing lead water lines and other work linked to the city’s water crisis.

Federal judge finds Flint, Michigan, in contempt for missing water line replacement deadlines

The city broke a court order from February 2023, and U.S. District Judge David Lawson found them in civil contempt. Under the terms of the 2017 settlement, the city agreed to replace the lead lines that carry drinking water. This led to the order.

A news release from the Natural Resources Defense Council on Wednesday said that the city had agreed to replace the pipes by early 2020 but still hasn’t done it. The NRDC also said that homeowners have been waiting for years for the city to fix damage to their property caused by the lead line replacement. This includes curbs, sidewalks, and fields that were damaged.

In a late Tuesday order, Lawson wrote, “The city has failed to follow the court’s orders in several ways, and… it has no good reason for its failures.”

Tens of thousands of homes have had their lead lines replaced, but the city still hasn’t reached out to a few dozen houses. A recent poll found that at least 275 still had lead service lines. Many of these companies may have chosen not to take part in the replacement scheme.

Filings in the case show that the replacement work has damaged the curbs, sidewalks, or lawns of at least 2,000 homes, and the city has regularly ignored court-ordered reporting requirements to show all the work it has done.

Federal judge finds Flint, Michigan, in contempt for missing water line replacement deadlines

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‘Depths of disgust and despair felt by Flint residents’

The city and state were sued in 2016 by Concerned Pastors for Social Action and other claimants. The contempt finding was made in that case. The judge told the plaintiffs that he would pay back the money they spent to bring the city’s violations to the court’s attention if they turned in the right papers.

The judge’s order only said that the plaintiffs would get legal fees, costs, and expenses. It did not say what other punishments the city would face if it did not follow the order. Lawson said that the city’s tight budget was one reason why they couldn’t do that. Another reason was that the city fixed three of the problems that led to the contempt motion while the motion was still being considered.

The fact that the court found the city of Flint in contempt shows how disgusted and hopeless the people of Flint are, said Melissa Mays, operations manager for the nonprofit group Flint Rising and one of the claimants in the cases.

City of Flint blames winter weather for recent delays

This is a different case from another one that was won in Flint and involved lead poisoning. Residents of Flint were given $626.25 million to make up for their injuries. As of now, no Flint resident has received payment from that deal because the claims administration process is still taking too long.

In documents filed with the court, the city said it had done everything it could to follow the court’s orders. Some of the most recent delays were caused by cold weather, according to the city.

“The city is committed to continuing to replace lead service lines above and beyond the terms of the NRDC settlement as long as funds are available,” Flint lawyer William Kim said in an email Wednesday. At this point, the city of Flint has identified and replaced service lines at 29,485 homes. According to the settlement deal, there are still about 30 addresses that need to have their lead service lines dug up.

In 2014, a state-appointed emergency manager switched Flint’s drinking water supply from water treated in Detroit from Lake Huron to water treated at the Flint Water Treatment Plant. This was the start of the city’s water problem. It was meant to be a short-term way to save money, but it ended up being a terrible idea.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has admitted that it did not require the corrosion-control chemicals that were needed as part of the process of treating water. Because of this, lines and fixtures let lead into the drinking water.

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