A coalition of water agencies in the Detroit area sued the state of Michigan on Tuesday over its new drinking water regulations.
The coalition — which includes the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner, the city of Livonia, and the Great Lakes Water Authority — is seeking to stop the state's revised rules about lead and copper in drinking water. They were created in response to the Flint water crisis.
The new rules are considered the strictest in the nation. They would lower Michigan's "action level" for lead in drinking water to below the federal limit and ultimately result in the replacement of half a million of the state's lead service pipes.
The coalition said while it supports what the new rules are trying to accomplish, it believes they're "flawed."
The group argues the new rules could increase the risk of exposing the public to other contaminants. It also says if local utilities have to spend money on replacing lead service lines, they may be forced to forgo repairs and improvements to other water safety infrastructure. And, they say, the rules violate Michigan's constitution by making local governments foot the $2.5 billion bill to replace both public and private lead service lines. Finally, they say the rules may raise water rates and potentially even make them unaffordable for many residents.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which is implementing the rules, had yet to comment as of Wednesday.