The Flint water crisis started back in 2014 when the city of Flint, Mich. changed its water source. After years of using treated water sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River, Flint began pumping water from the Flint River.
The city did not take the proper steps to ensure the safety of the water — namely, it did not use the necessary corrosion inhibitors, a must when pumping water through old pipes. The pipes soon started leaching lead into the city's water supply. More than 100,000 Flint residents were then exposed to neurotoxin, a heavy metal, which caused lead poisoning and subsequent health issues in numerous people. But now, after years of negotiating a deal, it looks like the victims of the Flint water crisis will receive a settlement from reaching a deal with the state of Michigan.
The state of Michigan reached a settlement with Flint water crisis victims.
The state of Michigan will pay $600 million in compensation to Flint residents who suffered lead poisoning and subsequent health issues. As a lawyer involved in the case explained to the Associated Press, that is because the state advised the city not to worry about treating the tainted water, and city officials listened.
Michigan officials hope the settlement will mitigate further lawsuits against the state, the lawyer added — although there are other lawsuits against specific Michigan officials and agencies in the works, according to The Hill.
Negotiations have been going on for over a year.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel have been in negotiations with lawyers representing thousands of Flint residents for more than a year and a half. Finally, this week brings some justice to the residents who have dealt with lawsuits on top of health issues caused by Flint's water crisis.
The news of the settlement broke Thursday, Aug. 20 — but the night beforehand, Attorney General Nessel's spokesman Ryan Jarvi brushed off rumors about an upcoming deal. “We and the other parties are bound by a federal court order to maintain the confidentiality of detailed settlement and mediation communications until we reach a certain point,” he said, as per ABC7. “We have not yet reached the point where we can discuss a potential settlement.”
The process of distributing the money to Flint water victims will likely take months to complete.
The Detroit News reported that that the 33,000+ victims of the crisis won't receive their payouts until early 2021. 80 percent of the settlement will go to Flint children who were under 18 in April 2014 (when the city's water source was switched), and the rest will go to adults who got lead poisoning or Legionnaires' Disease, those who had property damaged, businesses who lost money, and special education resources.
Here's how the deal will work for Flint residents: First, they will have to file claims for compensation. Then, as the attorney explained to the AP, state officials will determine how much each applicant should get out of the $600 million based on how greatly they were hurt.
Though the $600 million will not be distributed evenly, if it were, each of the 33,000 victims would receive around $18,000.
Once the settlement is paid off, Michigan will have spent a total of over $1 billion on handling Flint's water crisis, as Michigan has already spent more than $400 million. The money has gone to children's healthcare, installing new water pipes, water filters, bottled water, and more.