A federal judge has recently mandated that the state of Michigan deliver weekly supplies of 395,000 cases of water to Flint until its water crisis is resolved, denying a request for the state to put an earlier requirement to deliver water on hold.
According to the Detroit Free Press, U.S. District Judge David Lawson declared Flint water to still be unsafe and demanded the state give out water bottles to households without maintained filters Friday, a follow up on a initial order to do so last month after the state challenged it. The cost of the process is estimated to be $10.5 million per month.
For multiple months, Flint water was contaminated with lead, sparking significant health concerns for residents and gaining national attention, after the city’s water source was changed to the Flint River without the proper anti-corrosive treatments.
This practice tainted the water supply with large amounts of lead from the pipes. It has been linked to medical issues including severe bone pain, tooth damage and cancer in Flint residents, especially affecting children.
Flint has also had a tumultuous relationship with the state this year. The state banned Flint from being able to sue on the crisis, fearing the lawsuit could take a toll on the state budget and create more conflict.
In their objection to the mandate on providing water, Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri and the state-appointed Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board argued the ruling was not realistic and too expensive. They added that water bottles are already available to families in distribution centers.
Anna Heaton, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder, also said the process would make it difficult for Michigan to focus on improving the lead pipes and reducing home water use.
Lawson said Flint students still needed help despite the state’s plans, and Michigan must file a progress report by Dec. 16.
“Flint residents continue to suffer irreparable harm from a lack of reliable access to safe drinking water,” Lawson said in his ruling. “This is more than a mere inconvenience; hunting for water has become a dominant activity in some residents’ lives, causing anxiety, stress and financial hardship.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, Lawson said the state should first verify filters in houses, noting the process would take less than $1 million.
In research released Friday, Virginia Tech Prof. Marc Edwards noted several improvements in Flint’s water supply. Edwards was one of the main researchers during the start of the Flint water crisis, after receiving a request from residents who noticed the poor water quality and the increasing prevalence of illness among children.
“Citizen-led testing shows water conditions continue to improve,” Edwards said during his press conference. “Lead and iron levels in the water are decreasing, with many more homes having non-detectable levels at the tap. However, he also said residents should continue to use bottled water and lead filters until otherwise notified by the EPA or the state.”