A state of emergency has been declared in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been drinking poisoned water that may have irreversibly damaged their children with lead poisoning.
Last April, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder decided to try to cut costs by switching from Detroit’s water system to getting water from the more corrosive Flint River. Shortly after that, complaints began flooding in about the visibly contaminated water, but the water was not switched back until months later in October.
Now, a class-action lawsuit has been filed by the residents of Flint claiming that those responsible for switching their water caused them “serious personal injury” by exposing them to “the extreme toxicity of water pumped from the Flint River into their homes, schools, hospitals, workplaces and public places.”
As part of their campaign to show how dangerous and disgusting the water was, Flint resident shared pictures of the water, which they had been assured repeatedly was safe to drink, on social media.
To add insult to injury, many residents in Flint are now facing water shutoffs if they don’t pay the bill for their deadly water. In 2011, a rapid increase in rates of about 35% was implemented, despite the fact that such a rapid rate hike was against the law, and while a judge halted shutoffs at the new rate hikes, the shutoff notices recently resurfaced.
“The city is still billing residents for the contaminated water being pumped to their homes and expecting immediate payment,” said Sylvia Orduno of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.
The average bills sit at around $140 a month, and for Flint residents who are trying to recover their health and get clean water into their homes, that is too much.
“The pace at which help is getting to residents is causing them further health consequences, suffering, and debt,” Orduno said. “Bottled water is an expensive alternative and requires constant, large supplies to meet the need.”