http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/politics/flint-residents-still-being-forced-to-pay-for-lead-laced-water/article/457060

Op-Ed: Flint residents still being forced to pay for lead-laced water

Posted Feb 9, 2016 by Karen Graham
Michigan's governor has proposed a $30 million payment to Flint that would counteract the impact of the water crisis on the city's residents, but even if the money is applied to this years budget, it's not enough.
US President Barack Obama's limousine drives past a sign for Flint  Michigan as he travels to a...
US President Barack Obama's limousine drives past a sign for Flint, Michigan as he travels to a lunch on January 20, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan
Brendan Smialowski, AFP/File
A stunning video was posted on Reddit last night, showing a very articulate Flint resident describing the water situation in her city. The woman says water bills in Flint are the highest in the nation, and she owes $1,049 right now, even though her family can't use the water.
Let's be honest, folks. Flint, Michigan's water crisis is an example of a failure of all levels of government, starting with city officials and climbing the governmental ladder all the way up to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The problem now is the high water bills, over $140 each month, keep coming and have not been reduced in any way.
Flint Administrator Natasha Henderson told city council members Monday, Feb. 8 the recent proposal to give Flint $30 million against the water bills would not be enough, and would only help keep the city's water fund financially solvent until the end of this year.
Henderson, who was appointed to her position by former emergency manager Darnell Earley, said the proposal would only cover a small part of resident's water bills, and the increasing number of residents not paying their water bills is putting the city at financial risk.
"We will not have any cash if all of the stats continue as far as the billing," Henderson said, noting the city needs at least $60 million, and that the city may have to start cutting off resident's water if funds continue to dwindle.
The thing is, Flint was in a financial crisis in 2013 when the whole mess started, according to the Detroit Free Press. The city was getting water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, and in a City Council vote of 7 in favor and 1 opposing, the city voted to split from Detroit's water system in favor of building a new pipeline from Lake Huron.
Former Mayor Dayne Walling said at the time the city would continue to use Detroit water until the pipeline was complete. However, records show that the city was already under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager, Edward Kurtz, all because of Flint's financial difficulties. But the switch actually occurred while Flint was under the control of Kurtz's successor as emergency manager, Darnell Earley.
So the real blame for this criminal act goes back to 2013, and not only involves Flint officials, but the state Environmental Protection Agency for not requiring the addition of corrosion-control chemicals to the Flint River water that caused lead to leach from the pipes and fixtures in Flint.
No one in Flint should have to pay for water they can't drink. It's bad enough that children have been poisoned because of governmental ineptitude, but to pay for the privilege of being poisoned is even worse.
While this story was being written, Governor Rick Snyder announced that on Wednesday, he would seek an additional $195 million to bring safe drinking water to Flint. Snyder came to his decision after meeting with fellow Republicans in the state House and Senate appropriations committee.
But, absolutely nothing was said about Flint resident's water bills being forgiven. Instead, according to the Detroit Free Press a few minutes ago, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, said on Tuesday the GOP leader "is looking at how the Senate can assist Flint to improve damaged infrastructure and put a program in place to assist other communities to upgrade and improve existing infrastructure."