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Federal judge: Flint missed deadline for lead line replacements; must complete work by August

Sign in Flint, Michigan.
Michigan Municipal League

Flint missed a court-ordered deadline to replace all the city’s lead service lines, and failed to track where crews doing that work allegedly damaged property, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

A landmark 2017 settlement required Flint to finish replacing all its lead lines by early 2020. The city missed that deadline, which was extended to September 2022. The city missed that deadline too.

So the plaintiffs in the original lawsuit went back to court seeking a new, enforceable deadline. They also want the city to properly track where residents' properties damaged by replacement excavations, and fix those issues.

Judge David Lawson agreed. He set a new August deadline for finishing the lead line replacements, and a May deadline for figuring out which properties need repairs.

Lawson’s order outlines the process the city must go through to do that, which includes doing an in-person visual inspection of the home, and leaving a doorhanger at properties where it’s determined no further restoration work is needed.

The city is also required to do additional planning to ensure it hits the new deadlines, and must provide more progress reports on remaining work to the plaintiffs.

The city had argued that the door hangers and additional reporting requirements were unnecessary and burdensome, and were outside the scope of the original settlement.

In a statement, Flint city attorney William Kim said, “The City of Flint agreed last fall to the August 1, 2023 completion deadline, and with over 97% of service line excavations and replacements completed, we are well on our way to that goal. We are committed to getting the lead out for the health and safety of Flint residents.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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