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Petition Calls for End to Flint Water Bills

Despite relying on bottled water instead of tap, some Flint residents are being billed for the city's contaminated water. (Dodgertonskillhause/Morguefile)
Despite relying on bottled water instead of tap, some Flint residents are being billed for the city's contaminated water. (Dodgertonskillhause/Morguefile)
January 28, 2016

FLINT, Mich. - Some Flint residents say they are being forced to pay for poisoned water and they want it to stop. As state and federal leaders investigate and address the water crisis, people are receiving bills for water that has been contaminated with lead.

Joseph Morales of Flint says his family began using bottled water when they noticed the tap water didn't taste right and had an odor. And because they were not using the city's water, he stopped paying his water bill in July. Morales says two shut-off notices have arrived since.

"What are we supposed to do," he asked. "We can't use the water, it's tainted water, it's not fit for human consumption. Do we not pay it? Or are we being forced to still pay it anyway and that's the big question."

State Attorney General Bill Schuette this week said he's outraged that citizens are faced with bills for unsafe water, and is investigating ways to provide financial assistance to Flint residents. Today, a petition will be delivered to Flint's mayor calling for a moratorium on water bills and shut-offs.

With some residents refusing to pay their water bills, Flint leaders predicted this week that the city's water fund could be depleted by the end of the year. Rev. Deane Oliva, minister with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Flint, says state leaders need to act quickly.

"We have some of the highest water bills in the state, in the country," says Oliva. "It is unconscionable for people in the city of Flint to have to pay for water services, for water that they cannot bathe in, cannot cook with and cannot drink."

Michigan lawmakers are drafting a bill, supported by the governor, to provide $28 million in aid to address the water crisis, which could include $5 million to help Flint address unpaid water bills and new water infrastructure.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI