The state of Michigan is in federal court trying to force the city of Flint to accept a deal to get safe drinking water.
The lawsuit filed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) demands that Flint make a long-term deal with Great Lakes Water Authority, the utility that provides water to the city of Detroit and its suburbs. The Flint city council is refusing to ratify a deal backed by Mayor Karen Weaver, the EPA, and the DEQ.
“Despite proposing no other reasonable alternative, the Flint City Council has refused to approve the agreement negotiated by the Mayor,” reads the lawsuit. “…MDEQ requests that this Court declare that the City Council’s inaction will result in a violation of applicable law and that Flint must enter into the agreement to use finished water supplied by GLWA. There is simply no other option that will adequately protect the public health in Flint.”
The DEQ’s Tiffany Brown says the agency filed the lawsuit because the impasse creates an imminent public health risk.
“The main focus is making sure the city has quality water that meets public health standards,” she says.
The lawsuit says the impasse puts Flint in the position of violating state and federal clean water laws.
Flint switched from using Detroit water while the city was run by state-appointed emergency managers. The result was lead contamination and, possibly, a fatal outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease.
In a written statement, Mayor Weaver said the lawsuit is “disappointing” but predictable.
“The people of Flint have waited long enough for a reliable, permanent water source,” she said. “Implementing my recommendation will provide that, and will allow us to move forward as a community and focus more on rebuilding our City.”