Imagine if you lived in a city where the drinking water supply had been poisoned by lead after cost-saving measures were enacted by an unelected, appointed official. Now imagine you were being billed for that “privilege”.
Pretty outrageous, right? I mean who would have the audacity to bill people for THAT?
Flint, Michigan, that’s who:
Residents of the impoverished City of Flint pay some of the highest water bills in Michigan. And those bills have not stopped coming or been reduced since state and local officials acknowledged the water is unsafe to drink without filtering.
That’s wrong, says a growing chorus of residents and advocates.
They say the State of Michigan — which has acknowledged significant responsibility for the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water, which began in April 2014 and continues to pose a health threat today — should be picking up some or all of the tab.
Given the potential health and infrastructure implications of the Flint drinking water crisis, the water bill issue could be small change in the big picture. But it’s galling for residents who get big invoices for water they now know they can’t drink, and that — in some cases — they and their families consumed before knowing it wasn’t safe. Lead can cause permanent brain damage in children.
Leon El-Alamin, executive director of the M.A.D.E. Institute in Flint, a nonprofit organization that has been distributing clean water, said a reduction of at least 50% in water bills is in order “until we get this thing resolved.”
When asked about billing people using the tainted water supply, Gov. Snyder said he was “not going to speculate.”
It’s just one more indignity to heap on top of the myriad other indignities inflicted on the people of Flint.
I hope none of them was planning to sell their home any time soon…
[CC Facepalm image credit: Cesar Astudillo | Flickr]