$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.

Flint no longer getting water credits after February

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Flint customers will pay full price for their water starting in March after officials announced Thursday the state will end water relief credits for the city recovering from a lead-tainted water supply.

The state cites the city’s improved water quality as the reason for ending the credits. A letter from a senior adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder informed Flint’s interim chief financial officer, David Sabuda, the credits, which applied to the water portion of Flint utility customers’ accounts, would end after Feb. 28.

The March billing statement will be the last to include the water usage credits, which were 20 percent for commercial customers and 65 percent for residential, officials said.

The state will also no longer provide $1.2 million in monthly funding for the water the city receives from the Great Lakes Water Authority.

“I am aware that the water quality in the city of Flint is improving and that is a good thing,” Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement. “We knew the state’s assistance with these water-related expenses would come to an end at some point; I just wish we were given more notice so we at City Hall and the residents had more time to prepare for the changes.”

Snyder spokeswoman Anna Heaton said ending the credits in February had been part of many discussions after the results of the June-December monitoring period were released by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality last month.

“The letter this week is just the formal notification in writing,” Heaton said in an email.

The water credits, which totaled $40.4 million, covered water usage retroactive to April 2014. It was that month that Flint switched from the Detroit water system to the Flint River as its municipal water source. It switched back in October 2015 only after the city’s water supply became tainted with lead from aging pipes. State officials failed to require the city to apply federally mandated corrosion control chemicals while on the river water.

Recently, state officials noted that during the last six-month cycle of water testing, lead results were below 15 parts per billion, the federal action level under the Lead and Copper Rule. The results support findings from testing of sentinel sites in November that showed Flint’s water had a 90th percentile value of 8 parts per billion.

U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Flint Township, called the end of the credits “disappointing since it was the actions by state government that created this crisis.”

“This crisis is not over,” Kildee said in a statement. “The city still today must buy usable water from other communities instead of treating its own water at the city plant. This is because of decisions by unelected emergency managers that got the city into this emergency in the first place. Flint families still need the state to step up and do more until the city can treat its own water.”

Flint residents can still receive water filters, replacement cartridges, bottled water and at-home water testing kits.

“I appreciate all the work everyone has done to help the citizens and the city of Flint move forward,” Weaver said. “We will continue working to fully recover from this water crisis and make sure residents have the resources, services and support they need.”

Customers needing assistance with their water and sewer bill still can call the Customer Service Center at (810) 766-7015, or visit Flint City Hall.

(313) 222-2311