Story at a glance

  • The Flint water crisis began in 2014 when the city decided to switch its water source to the Flint River.
  • Residents began to complain of discolored water that smelled and gave people skin rashes after showering.
  • A series of lawsuits and investigations began and now the first settlement was announced this week.

Seven years after residents in Flint, Mich. first flagged contaminated water in their homes, a judge in Michigan approved a $600 million settlement that resolves thousands of claims and becomes the largest settlement of its kind in the state of Michigan’s history.

The order was issued on Wednesday and district judge Judith E. Levy outlined how nearly 80 percent of the settlement funds are to be directed to minors impacted by the water crisis. The remaining 20 percent will go to adults impacted as well as property owners and business owners.

Judge Levy also said a separation motion that seeks as much as $200 million for legal fees from the overall settlement will be addressed in a separate opinion and order. 

Young children absorb lead more easily, making them more susceptible to lead poisoning. According to the Mayo Clinic, even low levels of lead can cause damage over time with the greatest risk to brain development. Higher levels of lead can damage the kidneys and nervous system in both children and adults. 

According to The Washington Post, between 18,000 to 20,000 children and adolescents lived in Flint during the water crisis. 


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Michigan’s governor Gretchen Witmer released a statement about the settlement announcement and said, “The court's final approval of the settlement is an important step forward in the process of helping Flint heal and making amends to the families and individuals who have faced so much uncertainty. What happened in Flint should never have happened, and no amount of money can completely compensate people for what they have endured." 

Wednesday’s order was just one part of the attempt to solve for Flint’s water crisis. Since 2015, the city has received tens of millions of dollars in state and federal funding to repair its toxic water system. It’s also nearing the end of a 2017 court order that mandated the removal of lead pipes throughout the city. About 10,000 pipes have been replaced so far, according to the city

Flint’s water crisis began in 2014 when the city switched its water source to the Flint River as a cost saving measure for 100,000 residents, according to a timeline created by The Washington Post. Residents immediately began to report complaints about the water’s smell, taste and appearance.

From that point on, a series of investigations from Michigian’s attorney general's office, hearings on Capitol Hill and lawsuits began.

Earlier this year, Michigan’s attorney general’s office announced nine individuals had been indicted on a total of 42 counts related to a series of alleged actions and inactions that created the Flint water crisis. Former governor of Michigan Richard Snyder was one of the nine indicted, who faces two counts of willful neglect of duty. 


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Published on Nov 11, 2021