The city of Flint, Michigan, is charging its citizens hundreds of dollars for poisoned water.
According to the residents of the city, water that runs yellow and brown and smells like sewerage costs them $100-$200 per month. Tyrone Wooten, a long time resident, noted that they were having hefty water bills since the middle of 2014 — that was a year before the discovery of lead contamination in the city’s municipal water supply.
Wooten added that his monthly water bill is somewhere between $125 and $150 and the inflated water cost has caught the interest of local businesses because it could mean that people would start switching to bottled water if tap water got too expensive.
Last week the situation got even worse. Authorities in Michigan sent out shut-off notices to households who are behind in their water bill payment. As per the Finance Director Jody Lundquist, the city had already sent over 1800 notices in November to shut off the water supply and after a short respite for Christmas, has continued sending out warnings to past-due accounts.
This motion has outraged the residents of the city who say that they should not have to pay for contaminated water.
“They have irreparably harmed children and families by poisoning the water,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of liberal advocacy group Progress Michigan pointed out. “It is ludicrous that they would even consider sending shut-off notices.”
“All arrears should be cleared,” Kary Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, said last week. “No one should have to pay for this.”
The city has already been reproved for suddenly and drastically hiking up water rates by 35% in 2011. A Genesee court ruled in August that the hike in water rates was unlawful and ordered an injunction. The city claims that the hike was from increased rates from Detroit and to make sure that the city was compliant with its water bond agreement, which requires Flint to maintain some revenue.
The water crisis has prompted the resignation of Michigan’s top environmental officials as well as calls for the arrest of Gov. Rick Snyder.