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Flint, Michigan, still harassing public with past due water bills even though water is contaminated with toxic lead

Flint Michigan

(NaturalNews) On January 5, a state of emergency was finally declared in Flint, Michigan. Having switched back to Detroit water in October 2015, the city of Flint still had a long way to go before their lead-poisoned water was once again safe to drink.

Nevertheless, it seemed as if the recent crisis never even took place when Flint decided to dish out around 1,800 water shut-off notices in November. These were to arrive at their respective households early in January, just as the state of emergency was declared. At the time, residents were receiving bottled water due to the unsafe nature of the tap water they were still being charged for.

The two-year long struggle for clean water in Flint

Less than two years ago, Flint was already facing a difficult financial state of emergency, when things got even worse for the locals. By order of the state, the Flint water supply was switched from Detroit's Lake Huron to the mucky Flint River. Soon enough, residents pointed to the fact that the water had a different smell and taste, and often looked dirty.

Unfortunately, no one would listen to the worried people and, up until September, city and state officials told everyone that the water is safe. Even when a group of researchers from Virginia Tech discovered the dangerously elevated levels of lead in drinking water, state officials tried to quiet down the results by fronting their own, more accurate research. The issue was publicly acknowledged and the water source replaced only in October 2015, when much of the damage had already been done.

The disastrous aftermath so far

According to the class-action lawsuit[PDF] that followed the disastrous water situation, the Flint River water should have been treated with an anti-corrosive agent, which would have cost about $100 every day. As the state Department of Environmental Quality decided to ignore this essential detail, probably due to financial considerations, the water started eroding the iron water mains, as well as the lead service lines.

Although Flint is now receiving water from Detroit, the results of this careless course of action are irreversible. Especially with children, this event will undoubtedly mark the rest of their lives, as lower IQs, developmental delays and learning difficulties are only some of the known symptoms of lead poisoning. In addition, during the two years when locals were told to drink Flint River water, there was a staggering spike in the number of cases of Legionnaires' disease throughout Genesee County. In the course of only one year, more than 87 residents developed the disease. Ten of these patients have since died.

Poisoned or not, they still have to pay for it

In light of recent events, it seems almost unbelievable that the City of Flint would still harass its residents to pay for overdue water bills. Their story goes even further back from the recent water crisis and all the way to 2011, when Flint lawmakers broke the city law to impose a rapid 35% increase in water rates. As a result, many locals were unable to pay their bills and shut-off notices were swiftly issued throughout. Only last summer, a judge halted the shut-offs and ordered the city to revise the issued bills.

After a short break, the shut-offs resumed in November. Although they featured the correct rates, they were actually charging residents for water they could not drink. Indeed, the 1,800 past-due notices were issued for the water that residents received during September or, in other words, the contaminated water that caused them and their children to suffer from irreversible lead poisoning.

Whom are the outraged residents in Flint, Michigan, to turn to now?

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