Flint, MI—A motion filed on May 26, 2023, claims the City of Flint and Mayor Sheldon Neeley should be held in contempt for violating a February 2023 federal court order regarding the city’s ongoing lead pipe replacement program.
That order required Flint to reach certain milestones in the program, like filling in missing information on property repairs, and is one of a series of enforcement measures put forward by plaintiffs in a 2017 settlement agreement mandating that the city replace all lead water service lines to homes.
The program’s original deadline for completion was Jan 1. 2020. However, that deadline was gradually pushed further and further back due to financing and management concerns—first to 2021, then 2022, and then Aug. 1, 2023.
“We’re approaching a decade without safe drinking water in Flint; that’s a lifetime for many of Flint’s children. It’s unacceptable that, even after we’ve come back to court several times and won, our officials are failing to finish the job,” Melissa Mays, one of the plaintiffs in the case and the operations manager for Flint Rising, said in a prepared statement.
According to a press release from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), another plaintiff in the case, the contempt filing claims “among other violations, the City missed a key May 1 deadline to fill in the gaps in tracking restorations. As a result, the City still does not know how many addresses require property repairs, in clear violation of requirements it agreed to under the order.”
In response to the filing notice, the city of Flint shared a press release outlining its lead pipe replacement program’s status.
“The City of Flint is closing in on completing the final 2% of lead service line replacements. Out of over 31,000 households, the City is moving rapidly to complete the final 1084 addresses,” the release stated.
Mayor Sheldon Neeley also offered comment in the release, noting he took office in November 2019 and was “rectifying a mismanaged project.”
“It’s unfortunate that the NRDC continues to divert time and resources from Flint residents, whose municipal services would be negatively impacted by these financial hits,” Neeley said. “As a Flint resident myself, I am sternly resolved to complete the lead service line replacement project to protect the health and wellbeing of our families, our neighbors, and our community.”
The release also stated that out of the remaining households left to service, 275 have consented to receive that service, while an additional 93 have declined and signed forms acknowledging that they are responsible for replacing their own service lines.
Residents with lead water service lines may still request replacements by submitting forms on the City of Flint website or calling 810-410-1133.