Court of Claims’ Rejects Local Communities’ Challenge to Lead and Copper Ruling

Posted on July 31, 2019 by Dene Westbrook

Last Friday, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled to dismiss the 2018 lawsuit challenging Michigan’s lead and copper rules for safe drinking water.

The lawsuit was filed by the cities of Detroit, Livonia, Great Lakes Water Authority and Oakland County who argued the rules compromise their ability to remove lead lines in a manner that would protect the public and requires a water supply to replace every lead service line in a water system, including any portion of a privately-owned service line. The cost to local government is estimated at $2.5 billion.

Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray stated that,  “Plaintiffs have not presented a convincing argument as to why the rules were not rationally related to the” Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (MSDWA)’s “purpose . . . of ‘assuring the long-term health of (the state’s) public water supplies and other vital natural resources. As a result, the rules are not invalid in their substance.”

As a result of this ruling, there will be no changes to the lead and copper rule and local communities and utilities are expected to follow the established safe drinking water rules. An appeal to this decision is possible, but it is unknown at this time. The League will continue to follow this issue, and keep our members aware of any updates.

Herasanna Richards is a legislative associate handling energy, environmental, external municipal services and election issues for the League.  She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0309. 

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