The Associated Press reports that the State of Michigan will pay $600 million to compensate residents of Flint, who drank lead-contaminated water as a result of state negligence. Details of the settlement are still classified, but it is the biggest payout yet in a water crisis that began over six years ago.
The Governor’s Office and Attorney General’s Office have spent the last 18 months negotiating with lawyers for thousands of Flint residents who have filed suits against the state. Now, with the $600 million settlement, the state will try to compensate for its part in a public health crisis that made the impoverished, majority-Black city of Flint a national symbol of government incompetence.
About the Water Crisis
In 2014, Flint switched its public water source from the City of Detroit to the Flint River to save money. The move was under the supervision of a state-appointed emergency manager. But the water from the Flint River was highly-corrosive, which caused it to draw lead from aging pipes.
As a result, those who drank the tap water ingested toxic levels of lead, which caused rashes, hair loss, and other health concerns. For months, however, local and state officials insisted that it was safe, and refused to take measures to treat the corrosive properties of the water. By 2015, researchers revealed that the children of Flint had abnormally high levels of lead in their blood, and urged authorities to stop using the Flint River water source.
About the Deal
Under the settlement, the state would establish a $600 million fund, through which Flint residents could file compensation claims. An anonymous attorney who worked on the terms of the deal told the AP that each applicant would receive an amount complicit with how badly they were harmed.
Furthermore, the deal apportions 80% of the money to people who were under the age of 18 during the period when the lead-infected water was in use. If approved, the deal would push state spending on the Flint water crisis over $1 billion. This spending already includes other legal costs, the costs of replacing the old water pipes, providing filtered and bottled water, and health expense of affected children.