Doctor: Flint should waive water bills for a decade

The Associated Press

Flint — Residents in Flint should be off the hook for paying water bills for the next 10 years, according to a pediatrician who helped reveal high lead levels in the city’s drinking water.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha told the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee during a meeting Friday that waiving the cost of water service could rebuild trust with residents who continue to deal with a lead-tainted water crisis, The Flint Journal reported.

Hanna-Attisha is a member of the committee established by Gov. Rick Snyder tasked with working on long-term solutions to the crisis.

“I really feel the people of Flint should not be paying for water the next decade,” said Hanna-Attisha.

She said state and federal funds could be used to cover the cost.

Flint was under state control in 2014 when it switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River to save money. Tests later showed the river water was improperly treated, causing lead to leach from aging pipes.

The city has since switched back to Detroit’s system.

A report released in May suggested that Flint residents’ already pricey water bills could double in the next five years.

The analysis was submitted to the committee and warned that the average residential bill of nearly $54 a month may rise to $110 — not counting sewer charges — “absent any action to increase funding or decrease costs.” The typical residential water bill has doubled since 2009 and is far higher than in other regional cities of Flint’s size.

Bills in Flint are so high because the city went many years without any rate increases, which later resulted in large hikes, the study said.