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Flint residents ask judge to order home-delivered water or professionally installed filters

Mar 24, 2016

People can pick up cases of free bottled water in Flint.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A couple of organizations suing the state over the Flint water crisis want people to have better access to safe drinking water on a daily basis. They are asking a federal judge to order the state to either deliver bottled water, or send professionals to install water filters at every home in Flint.

Right now, people can pick up free filters and bottled water at five fire stations. But the ACLU and the Natural Resources Defense Council say residents are struggling to correctly use filters. They're asking that they be professionally installed.

“We think our ask is incredibly reasonable; that people are given the assurance that they will be properly taken care of and that they have access to clean safe drinking water on a daily basis. We don’t think that’s too much to ask at all,” said Anjali Waikar, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“I spend my days and weekends distributing information, delivering bottled water and filters, and coordinating bottled water donations — things that the government should be doing instead of me,” said Melissa Mays, co-founder of the organization Water You Fighting For, and a plaintiff in the case.

A request for an injunction was filed Thursday in Detroit federal court. The American Civil Liberties Union says many residents don't have cars and can't get to water distribution sites. Others feel intimidated by police or military at the locations.

People can call the United Way’s 2-1-1 line for help. But the groups say water delivery can take days or longer.

Ari Adler, a spokesman with the governor’s office, says people can get as much free bottled water as they need at five fire stations, which are open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. A spokesman for the United Way estimates roughly 1,000 residents are on a list to get weekly deliveries.

“The Genesee County Emergency Operations Center obtains the list from United Way 211 and proceeds to make deliveries in partnership with nonprofit organizations. This is a part of a whole community approach to ensure Flint residents receive water, which is done during all types of emergencies and disasters. Homebound or in-need residents can also call United Way 211 to be put on a list for water filter installation assistance,” Adler said.