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Michigan Department of Envtl. Quality v. Flint, City of

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20136
Nos. 17-12107, (E.D. Mich., 10/17/2017) (Lawson, J.)

A district court held that the city of Flint, Michigan, must choose a long-term water source and gave the city a week in which to do so. After the events of the Flint water crisis, EPA notified the city that it would need to make a decision about a long-term source of drinking water, probably before October 2017, when then-current supply contracts would expire. The city engaged in negotiations with various entities, resulting in an agreement in April 2017 that would achieve health, safety, and financial goals consistent with the EPA’s orders. Flint failed to sign the agreement and the city council has not voted to approve it, nor has it offered an alternative. The state of Michigan filed suit against Flint to compel the city to sign the agreement that would have it purchase water from the Detroit municipal system for 30 years. The city council contended that a court cannot order a public legislative body to approve a contract, and even if it could no irreparable harm has been demonstrated to compel such action. While the court disagreed, stating that it had the authority in this case to compel the execution of a long-term agreement, it gave the city of Flint seven days to find an alternative as local officials should at least have the opportunity to devise their own solutions to remedy a violation of federal law. The city was given until October 23, 2017, to make a selection.