(This story has been updated with additional information.)
FLINT, MI — A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of Flint children claims three companies that helped finance Flint’s participation in the Karegnondi Water Authority are partly responsible for the city’s water crisis.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, Oct. 7, in U.S. District Court, says J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo Bank National Association, and Stifel, Nicolaus, and Company, Inc., pushed ahead with bonding to finance construction of a new water pipeline to Lake Huron while knowing the city would use the Flint River as its short-term source of drinking water and of the resulting hazards to residents’ health.
Without the bond financing, Flint would not have been able to join the KWA and tap into its new pipeline, the lawsuit alleges, the KWA would not have been able to start construction of the project, and the city would never have switched its water source to the river.
Flint was initial partner in the KWA, agreeing to buy a set amount of raw water from the new pipeline, but unlike Genesee County, the other primary partner, the city stopped purchasing pre-treated water from the city of Detroit before the pipeline was built, switching instead to treating its own river water during parts of 2014 and 2015.
The city’s change in water source triggered the water crisis, sending highly corrosive water through the distribution system, including thousands of lead and galvanized service lines to homes, causing elevated levels of lead and bacteria in tap water.
State appointed emergency managers were charged with running the city’s affairs at the time bonding was secured for the pipeline project.
“J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Stifel knew … that the Flint River would be used as an interim source of drinking water for Flint for the