Some 5,000 homeowners in 15 Santa Clarita Valley, Calif., housing developments will benefit from a $41 million settlement approved by a Los Angeles county superior court judge to be paid primarily by builders and plumbers who installed homes with defective foreign-made galvanized steel water pipes.

The class-action lawsuit alleges that the developers, suppliers, plumbing contractors, manufacturers and water softening companies are liable for construction defect, strict product liability, negligence and other causes of action for the use of galvanized pipes in the Santa Clarita Valley potable and plumbing systems.

Years after their homes had been built, residents in several Santa Clarita Valley Developments began to detect such problems as pin-hole leaks, brown rusty water, premature pipe corrosion and deterioration. The damage resulted in some homeowners having to replace their entire plumbing system, and ceilings that collapsed because of leaks.

The homeowners spread across 15 new-home communities built from 1986 through 1994 and will receive up to $9,000 each, enough to replace the bad pipes in their homes and, in some cases, pay for past repairs.