Michigan has finally agreed to resolve a severe environmental crisis that the state itself created in the city of Flint, after avoiding its responsibility to its struggling residents for years. The news that the state government will be replacing thousands of lead pipes that have poisoned the city’s water. “That’s good news,” writes The New York Times Editorial Board, “but it’s shameful that it took a lawsuit to make it happen.”
“Lead, which can damage the brain and other organs, began leaching from pipes in 2014 after an emergency manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder tried to save money by switching to the polluted Flint River as a water source without adding chemicals that would have prevented corrosion,” notes The Times.
Despite complaints that the city’s water was smelly, discolored and foul-tasting, local and state officials first ignored, then lied, about the problem.
On Tuesday, Michigan agreed to spend $87 million in state and federal funds to undo that damage it caused in the settlement of a lawsuit brought by Flint residents and public interest groups.
“Flint’s misfortune drew attention to the widespread problem of contamination of water systems,” says The Times Editorial Board. “So the agreement serves as a reminder of the importance of the environmental laws and regulations that the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have made it their mission to eviscerate.”
The money will go to replace about 18,000 pipes in the next three years, reports The Times, and the “state will also provide residents with filters and bottled water — delivering it within 24 hours of a request from people who cannot leave their homes — and pay for regular water testing.”