Michigan's Flint and Other Defendants Agree to $641 Million Settlement Over Poisoning of Water Supply

The city of Flint, Michigan and two other parties have joined with the state in a settlement over the city's water supply being poisoned by lead.

The state of Michigan initially announced a settlement to lawsuits by Flint residents in August. On Tuesday, Flint officials announced that the city would be contributing $20 million to the settlement after reaching an agreement with an insurance company. McLaren Regional Medical Center and Rowe Professional Services Company also joined in the settlement, contributing $20 million and $1.25 million, respectively, with the total amount of the fund reaching $641.2 million.

"While no amount of money will heal the wounds inflicted on this community, we are glad to see more entities step up and take responsibility," Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in a statement. "The residents of the City of Flint deserve justice and they deserve a resolution to these lawsuits."

Flint's drinking water was at the center of a public health crisis that began in the city in April 2014, when the water supply was switched from the city of Detroit to the Flint River. Corrosive water flowing from the river caused lead to leech from pipes, contaminating the supply and poisoning residents. An outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease that killed a dozen people was also blamed on the water supply.

Flint Water Plant
The interior of a water processing facility is pictured in Flint, Michigan on September 14, 2016. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty

Although the water source was again changed and the Flint River has not been supplying the city since 2015, problems persisted as officials worked to replace a network of aging lead pipes. Criminal charges were filed against multiple state and local officials, while numerous class-action lawsuits were also filed.

Litigation is continuing for parties that did not join in the state's settlement, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and former Flint engineering consultants Veolia North America, Inc., Andrews, Newnam, Inc. and Lockwood.

The bulk of the settlement, 79.5 percent, will go to those who were children at the time of the crisis, a group particularly vulnerable to the effects of lead poisoning. Another 18 percent will go towards damage to adults and property, 2 percent will go to special education and 0.5 percent will be for loss to businesses.

The settlement will be reviewed for approval by Judge Judith Levy of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

"Submitting this settlement for preliminary approval is part of the legal process, but it is also an important step forward in providing the residents of Flint with relief," Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement. "Without this settlement, which makes affected children a top priority, Flint residents would have been provided little assurance that their claims would be successful in court, and ongoing litigation could have prolonged their hardships for years."

"Resolving these legal disputes against the State, and now the other defendants who have joined the settlement, is the best possible outcome for Flint's future," she added.

Newsweek reached out to Neely's office for comment.