The city of Flint, Michigan issued 18,835 notices of past-due water and sewage bills to more than 9,000 households between January 12 and May 2, 2017. Of those households, 2,777 (or 10 percent of Flint’s population) owed more than $1,000, and nearly 500 families owed more than $2,000, Michigan Radio reported.
Flint hasn’t had clean water since 2014, when the city began sourcing its water supply from the polluted Flint River. The contaminated water led to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in adults and dangerous lead levels in children, but the problems didn’t stop when the city switched back to Detroit’s water system a year later. Point-of-use filters provided by the government did a good job of keeping lead out of the water, but were later found to be a breeding ground for deadly bacteria. Many families still exclusively drink, bathe, and cook with bottled water.
In May, the city threatened families that refused — or didn’t have the means — to pay their water bills with foreclosure. A panel appointed by Governor Rick Snyder will decide today if the city should be able to put liens on residents’ homes. Flint residents have little faith in the state’s leadership, particularly after Snyder announced he considered Nick Lyon, a state official who was charged with manslaughter for his role in the water crisis, “completely committed to Flint’s recovery.”
“I refuse to pay them that water bill. I’m not doing it,” Flint resident Ladetrice Vincent told Michigan Radio. Vincent owes the city $6,668.49. “How do I pay you for you poisoning my kids? No, I’m not paying them until I know the water is safe. Now, once the water is all the way safe and it’s clean water then yeah, but I’m not paying them that $6,000,” Vincent said.