Residents in the city of Flint, Michigan, where water in the city has become contaminated with poisonous lead, have said they are still being charged for the water they cannot use.
The Independent confirms the claim of residents. It reports that city officials are still charging residents up to $200 a month for the useless poisonous water.
Flint’s water became contaminated after a change in supplier in 2014. The city switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River. The corrosive Flint River water caused lead from aging pipes to leach into the water supply.
According to residents, despite the overwhelming evidence that their water had been contaminated with lead, city and state authorities continued to urge them that there was nothing wrong with it.
In the city, many residents have taken to the streets to protest. Many are even calling for the resignation of some authorities in the state, due to the poor nature of how they have handled, and are still handling, the situation. Residents are demanding that the state’s governor, Rick Snyder, be arrested and prosecuted for his handling of the crisis. Protesters say Mr Snyder has been pathetic in the crisis, and that he is completely missing in action. President Barack Obama has since declared a state of emergency in the city.
According to the Guardian, the city’s water crisis has deepened since it emerged that the city’s water had been poisoned. Residents have been relying on bottled water to cook their meals. It is said poor families are in dire need of water. It was even reported that kids are sucking wet towels to satisfy their thirst when there is no bottled water for them to drink.
Some residents are also said to have developed strange skin diseases. To date, 10 people have died from a pneumonia-like condition known as Legionnaire’s disease. Some experts suspect that the deaths might be linked to the toxic water.
The Guardian reports that about 41% of the city’s population is facing this serious crisis in poverty. Residents are said to be living in a state of indignity, fear and paranoia. Some even refuse to shower, others will only eat from paper plates, and many suffer rashes and hair loss.
Poor residents have been relying on water donated by charitable individuals and organizations. The American singer and actress, Cher announced that she will be donating some 180,000 bottle of water to residents. Religious groups and community groups have also made similar announcements to help residents.
To add insult to injury, it is said city authorities are threatening to take away the children and homes of residents that refuse to pay their water bills.
The Free Thought Project reports that Michigan law states that parents are neglectful if they do not have running water in their home. As a result, if the parents do not pay for water, they could be guilty of child endangerment. Activists in the city say some residents have received threats, quoting this law from city authorities when they decided not to pay for the poisonous water.
However, because the water is considered to be poisonous, some residents have filed two class action lawsuits calling for all water bills since April of 2014 to be considered null and void.
“We are seeking for the court to declare that all the bills that have been issued for usage of water invalid because the water has not been fit for its intended purpose. Essentially, the residents have been getting billed for water that they cannot use. Because of that, we do not feel that is a fair way to treat the residents,” Trachelle Young, one of the attorneys representing residents said in court.
Recent estimates have indicated that it could take up to 15 years and over $60 million to fix the problem, and residents will be forced to live in this desperate condition until the problem is solved.
Governor Snyder is said to have requested $31m from the federal government. He said the need in the city (population of almost 100,000) far exceeds the state’s capability, and sought a disaster declaration.
But local media say President Obama has denied the request, saying such declarations are only made for natural disasters.
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