Flint Mayor Karen Weaver says she felt “anger and disappointment” after a meeting with the governor this week, where he rejected her request to continue state credits on city water bills.
The state has spent $40 million on a credit on Flint water bills during the past 12 months. The credits were for water that didn’t meet federal quality standards.
However, Gov. Snyder says Flint’s water quality is now comparable to other communities. The governor’s office says “residents don’t ‘have’ to use a filter,” though it is recommended in areas where pipes are being replaced.
Weaver has her doubts.
“I put a call out to the EPA,” Weaver told reporters today, “I want someone to tell me that, yeah, you can drink the water without a filter.”
Recent tests show lead levels in Flint fall below the federal action level. But damaged fixtures in homes may continue to leech lead into the drinking water.
The end of the water bill credit and a $1.2 million a month state subsidy to help Flint pay for treated water from the Great Lakes Water Authority is putting a pinch on Flint’s shaky finances.
Flint CFO David Sabuda says the city will have to rely on water customers to maintain their payments, but many Flint residents struggle to pay their monthly water and sewer bills, which are among the highest anywhere.
If the end of the water bill credits leads to more Flint water customers falling delinquent in their bills, it may affect the city’s ability to move on from its lead-tainted tap water crisis.
The city’s program of replacing damaged lead and galvanized service lines is partly tied to customers paying their bills. The city will not replace a service line, if the account on that property is delinquent.
So far, the city has replaced about 900 service lines. The mayor’s office hopes to replace another 6,000 this year. Flint may eventually need to replace more than 20,000 pipes.