After the State of Michigan stripped the residents of Flint of their ability to elect local representatives, state-appointed officials decided to use the Flint River as a water source without adding corrosion controls. As a result, lead leached from the water pipes and poisoned the drinking water, causing untold harm to the people of Flint.

ACLU of Michigan investigative journalist Curt Guyette helped to expose the water crisis, and the ACLU of Michigan and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a federal lawsuit against state and city officials seeking a court order requiring them to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. The goal of the lawsuit, filed in 2016, was to require the state and the city to replace the lead pipes and, in the meantime, ensure that officials deliver safe drinking water. Judge David Lawson granted our request for door-to-door bottled water delivery and filter installation, and soon after recommended that the parties enter mediation.

In March 2017 we reached an unprecedented settlement for $97 million requiring the state and city to replace all lead and galvanized pipes throughout Flint in the next three years, allocate resources for health and wellness programs, continue door-to-door filter installation and education, and extensively monitor Flint’s tap water for lead. We continue to monitor compliance and, when necessary, file motions to enforce aspects of the settlement. The city has hired a new project management company and is now on track to complete excavations and replacements at all remaining homes in Flint by the end of 2019.

(Concerned Pastors for Social Action v. Khoury; ACLU Attorneys Michael J. Steinberg and Bonsitu Kitaba-Gaviglio; Dimple Chaudhary, Sarah Tallman, and Jared Knicley of NRDC; co-counsel Glenn Simmington.)

Date filed

Stay informed

ACLU of Michigan is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National