Municipalities, Utilities Sue Michigan Over Updated Lead Rules

Municipalities, Utilities Sue Michigan Over Updated Lead Rules

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A coalition of local governments and utilities in the Detroit area is suing the state of Michigan over its strict lead and copper drinking water rules. While the coalition says it supports taking action against lead problems, it claims the new rules are too expensive for communities.

The lawsuit was filed recently against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and it argues that the rules are too costly, violate private property rights and ignore sources of lead contamination inside people’s homes.

Joining the lawsuit are the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, the Great Lakes Water Authority and the City of Livonia.

Michigan’s new lead and copper rules drop the action level for lead to 12 ppb in 2025 and give communities 20 years to replace an estimated 500,000 lead service lines statewide.

“MDEQ has mandated service line replacement without any consideration, guidance, fact-finding or solution for funding the enormous cost of this statewide infrastructure upgrade, particularly in the context of affordability, and how water supplies should fund these improvements while balancing their other public health and permit related infrastructure and legal obligations,” the lawsuit states.

Meanwhile, the Natural Resources Defense Council calls the lawsuit a full-bore attack on the health of thousands of children in Michigan who are at the risk of lead poisoning.

“Local officials like Detroit’s Mayor Duggan and Oakland County Commissioner Jim Nash should stop fighting against protections for kids and instead join us in fighting for funds for lead pipes and other water infrastructure to protect kids who are unknowingly being exposed to lead in drinking water,” says Cyndi Roper, senior water advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Attacking this lead rule sets up the potential of many Flints to come and kids will continue drinking lead in their water indefinitely. Michigan officials should know better.”


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