According to Food and Water Watch, a public interest watchdog group, drinking water supplied to residents of Flint, Michigan, was the most expensive in the nation. A survey conducted in January 2015 of the 500 largest water systems in the United States showed that Flint's citizens paid approximately $864 per year for water. That is about  twice the national average and about 3.5 times the rate Detroiters pay.
 
The study was completed before a judge in Flint ruled that certain rate increases were unlawful and ordered the city to reduce its rates by 35 percent and to end a service fee that it was charging. High rates were among the reasons that Flint switched from water supplied by Detroit to a source in the Flint River in 2014. Subsequent to the switch, consumers notice that their drinking water was discolored and had a bad smell. Later in 2014, General Motors ceased to use water supplied by the city of Flint because it proved to be excessively corrosive.
 
By 2015, a local physician determined that children that had consumed the water were showing excessively high levels of toxic lead that had been leached from ageing water pipes. Filnt officials were blamed for not using anti-corrosion chemicals to prevent the leaching. Several law suits are in the works on behalf of children and others who were affected.
 
Recent tests in Flint homes have shown lead levels twice as high as hazardous waste. Genesee County health officials are warning when levels get too high, the filters that are being distributed to Flint residents are not certified to remove high levels of lead. Currently, the Genesee County Health Department has found 100 homes where lead levels exceed 150 parts per billion (ppb). The Centers for Disease Control contends that anything over 15 parts per billion is unsafe, even while no level of lead is believed to be safe. Tests were done in 666 homes located throughout the striken city. In case, there was a home that was found to have 10,000 ppb for lead. 
 
Officials from the federal Environmental Protection Agency are slated to investigate why some homes have such high levels of lead. The local health department is recommending citizens to have their water check ever other week. Test kits have been made available at Flint's city hall and various fire stations that are being manned by the National Guard. 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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