The state of Michigan is suing Flint, alleging that the city council's failure to approve a recommendation to buy water long term from a Detroit-area system is endangering a public already troubled by a lead-tainted water crisis.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court.
The state Department of Environmental Quality had previously threatened legal action if the council did not approve Mayor Karen Weaver's recommendation or a reasonable alternative by Monday.
The council instead approved a short-term extension of its contract with the Great Lakes Water Authority, against the wishes of Mayor Karen Weaver, who is backing a 30-year contract.
State and federal officials do not want Flint to change water sources a third time after a fateful 2014 switch resulted in lead contamination and other issues while the city was under state management.
MDEQ Director Heidi Grether is providing the following statement regarding the filing:
“Providing drinking water that meets public health standards to the residents of Flint is a priority for the department. It is imperative that the City of Flint have a water source in place prior to October 1, and switching to a new water source at this late hour is practically impossible and we believe violates the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) order under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The department will continue its commitment to working with the City of Flint and appreciates Mayor Karen Weaver’s leadership in developing a recommendation that ensures residents have quality drinking water going forward that meets the US EPA and public health community’s standards.”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver released the following statement:
I am aware of the suit filed by the MDEQ today. While disappointing that the state and federal government are now involved in making a decision we as City leaders should be making for Flint, I cannot say that I am surprised. We were notified that legal action would be a consequence of Council choosing not to meet the requirements set before them to approve a long-term water source for Flint. The recommendation I put forward months ago is the best option to protect public health and is supported by the public health community.
The recommendation I proposed would also allow the City to avoid a projected 40 percent water rate increase and ensure the City of Flint gets millions of dollars to continue replacing lead tainted pipes and make much-needed repairs to our damaged infrastructure so we are able to deliver quality water to residents. The people of Flint have waited long enough for a reliable, permanent water source. Implementing my recommendation will provide that, and will allow us to move forward as a community and focus more on rebuilding our City.
Copyright 2017 Associated Press/WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.