'Hard-fought victory': Flint seals deal to replace 18000 home water lines

Under the settlement, the lead drinking water pipes in Flint must be replaced with galvanized steel pipes at no cost to residents within the next three years.

A federal judge approved a deal Tuesday to replace water lines at 18,000 homes in Flint, Michigan, marking a permanent fix to overcome the disastrous decision in 2014 to draw water from a river without treating it to prevent lead contamination. Also, it must set aside a further $10 million in federal funds for potential cost overruns.

"This settlement continues the state's commitment to providing the resources necessary for the residents of Flint to recover from the crisis, including health care services, nutritional food and replacement of lead service lines throughout the city", Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a news release. State officials have agreed to replace the city's lead water pipes by 2020.

-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.

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Flint residents started complaining about their water two years ago when the source of their water changed from Lake Huron to the Flint River. These sites will be phased out as need and demand drops according to the settlement.

The lawsuit was brought against representatives of the city and state by Concerned Pastors for Social Action, a local group of religious leaders in Flint and the surrounding areas, the ACLU of MI and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

"In my view the settlement agreement is fair, adequate, reasonable and consistent with the public interest and it furthers the objectives of the safe water drinking act", U.S. District Judge David Lawson said from the bench.

Thousands of Flint residents are still forced to rely on bottled water or home water filters due to the city's tainted water supply. Most residents won't continue to receive door-to-door bottled water deliveries, an earlier requirement that state officials resisted in court, but the state must deliver bottled water to residents who call a social services helpline until July 1.

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Even with recently-ended state subsidies, only about 55% of Flint residential water and sewer customers were current on their bills.

An agreement has been reached in a civil lawsuit involving the Flint Water Crisis.

The next year, researchers and medical personnel discovered high levels of lead in residents, especially children. "This did not happen because of the city, state, or federal governments that failed them".

"We took the matter into our own hands", Overton said.

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