Society

Flint Residents Are At Risk For Not Paying Water Bills

| by Shani Shahmoon

Thousands of Flint, Michigan, residents are at risk of losing their homes if they don't chalk up hundreds of dollars each in unpaid water bills.

WEYI reported that during the weekend of April 29, more than 8,000 Flint residents were issued city notices stating that if they don't pay over $800 in water bills by May 19, they could be at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure.

Many Flint residents have avoided paying their bills in retaliation to the water crisis, during which the city had been placed in a state of emergency for the hazardous amounts of lead and carcinogenic disinfectants in the water.

City officials explained that they need those bills to be paid, as it would bring nearly $6 million to the city.

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In March, Flint residents only paid $3 million for water, and the month before that was only $2.1 million.

In contrast, other representatives have spoken out against the issuance.

Congressman Dan Kildee issued a statement after some notices had been released:

Flint families should not have to pay for water that they still cannot drink, and they certainly should not lose their homes over this ongoing water crisis that was caused by the callous decisions of state government. It is unfortunate that Governor Snyder ended water credits for Flint families. I opposed this decision because Flint families deserve support from the state until there is confidence in the water system again.

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The U.S. Census Bureau reported that Flint, a city of nearly 100,000, is located 70 miles north of Detroit. It's economic state falls low as over 40 percent of the city's residents live below the poverty line.

The water crisis leads back to 2011, CNN reported, when money allocated for the city's water supply began being used for general funding. And in 2014, in attempt to address the lack of money in the water fund, the city switched to cheaper water sources, and the Flint River was used during the two-year transition.

In a study done by Virginia Tech, Flint River was found to be 19 times more corrosive than the water in Lake Huron, which they intended to use following the transition.

A major problem found in Flint River was lead, which has terrible health effects on people of all ages, but specifically children and the elderly.

This caused an uproar in the city and was later brought to former President Barack Obama's attention.

Lawsuits have been filed against city officials, the Environmental Protection Agency, and more. Over $100 million dollars have been invested in the rebuilding of drinking water infrastructures that have been contaminated by poisonous materials.

In January 2016, Flint Gov. Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency in Genessee County. Federal investigations have taken place to ensure the situation is being handled according to the law and not neglected by city officials, following a number of claims.

The state of emergency is still ongoing.

While Flint residents scramble to collect money to prevent losing their homes, the city is in the process of replacing the water pipe infrastructure.

Michigan radio reported that at the time the notices were posted, 850 service lines had been replaced, with the goal of 6,000 in 2017.

Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said: "With more work crews in the field starting next week, service lines to 900 homes will be replaced each month, so we’ll really start making progress."

Sources: WEYI, CNN, Michigan Radio / Photo credit: Pixabay

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