In the ongoing battle for clean water in Flint, Michigan, state officials on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the city on charges of “endangering public health,” reports The Boston Globe.
The move comes after the Flint City Council refused to approve a contract for a long-term clean water source in Detroit, writes the Globe. Questions about the health of the majority-Black city’s residents have been raised since the water crisis began in early 2014 when state-appointed financial managers switched the city’s water source to the Flint River.
The crisis has affected thousands, including children suffering from elevated lead levels and Legionnaires’ disease after being exposed to lead-contaminated water. Five Michigan officials, including the head of the state’s health department, were charged earlier this month with involuntary manslaughter after 12 people died in an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in 2014 and 2015.
The Department of Environmental Quality said it would pursue legal action if the council did not approve a recommendation from Mayor Karen Weaver to continue getting its water from the Detroit-area Great Lakes Water Authority on a long-term basis, the report says. Instead the council agreed to a short-term extension of a contract with the Detroit authority.
The lawsuit charges that Flint has no other “currently available” water source and is risking $1.8 million in extra costs over the next three months, writes the Globe. State officials are seeking an order barring the city from switching water sources again and requiring it to sign a 30-year contract to comply with federal and state laws.
City Council President Kerry Nelson said Tuesday that the state’s June 26 deadline was too rushed for council members, who needed months to review the deal as Weaver did, reports The Detroit News. Some council members want to find an alternative water source, according to the News.