Starting today (March 1), residents in Flint, Michigan will have to start paying their water bills in full again. Yet, tap water in the city still requires a filter to safely drink.
This has been the case since 2014 when officials failed to address the city’s public health crisis after corroded pipes leached lead into the water city residents used to drink, cook, bathe and all other everyday tasks.
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver fought with the state over continuing its water credits, which provided a 65 percent credit to residents and a 20 percent credit to business’s water bills, according to The Washington Post. But the state would not agree.
Michigan has spent about $41 million to help cover these costs and claims that the water is now at acceptable health standards under the Lead and Copper Rule, as well as the Safe Drinking Water Act, as per January 2017 test results from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality.
While the water is acceptable enough to end the subsidies, it apparently is not safe enough for residents to drink without filters, which the state will continue providing for homes.
“As of March 1st, Flint will be paying nearly three times more for water that they haven’t been able to drink for years,” said State Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich’s office in an email to MLive-Flint Journal.
In addition, residents who can’t afford these bills or decide to ignore them will face water shutoffs by the city, a practice Flint had halted last year after local and national media reported on the city’s issuing notices for lead-contaminated water.
All this comes after a study Food & Water Watch released in February 2016 found that the city’s predominantly Black residents pay the highest water rates in the country. These same residents are also dealing with a slow response in fully fixing toxic water that put their health at risk.
Though the city is currently replacing pipes, only about 800 homes have had theirs changed, reports MLive-Flint Journal. Flint is hoping to do 6,000 homes a year for three years.