WUOMFM

Petition: Stop charging consumers for water they can't drink

Jan 28, 2016

Many people in Flint are not paying their water bills these days.

A volunteer holds a petition calling for a "moratorium" on water bills for Flint residents
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Now there’s a push to make sure they don’t have to.

Lynna Kaucheck with Food & Water Watch handed a stack of petitions to Flint city administrator Natasha Henderson this morning in the hallway outside the mayor’s office.

“Calling on you to issue a moratorium on drinking water bills,” said Kaucheck.

The online petition asking the city to stop charging for water drew 21,000 signatures in a day. 

Kaucheck says the city should stop charging for water people can’t afford or drink. 

“All of this is a lot for people to handle,” says Kaucheck, “and enough is enough. Flint residents need relief.”

Another activist, Lila Cabbil, says it’s wrong to ask people to pay for water they can’t drink.

“This unfortunate situation really points to how much we need to restore our humanity. Because if people cared about one another, this would not have happened,” says Cabbil. 

Many people in Flint have already stopped paying their water bills, either because they can’t drink the lead-tainted water or they can’t afford the high water and sewer rates.  

City officials say they understand, but say people need to keep paying their water and sewer bills so the city can maintain and improve the infrastructure.

Since September, the city’s water fund has seen its revenues decline by millions of dollars.  

Late last year, the city issued more than 7,000 shutoff notices to delinquent customers, but so far, no one has had their water disconnected.

A bill that would give the city of Flint $3 million that could be used to address part of the problem was approved by the Michigan Legislature.