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Court orders home delivery of bottled water in Flint

steve carmody
Michigan Radio
Flint residents pick up bottled water at one of 9 distribution centers

A U.S. District judge is ordering the government to ensure that every Flint household has safe drinking water. That means home delivery of bottled water.

Federal judge David Lawson issued his order Thursday.

“In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out,” writes Lawson in his order. “Relief is intended to provide a rough substitute for the essential service that municipal water systems must furnish: delivery of safe drinking water at the point of use.”

In the order, Lawson directs the state of Michigan and the city of Flint to deliver water, unless they can verify, on a regular basis, that individual homes have a properly installed and maintained a faucet filter, or the home declines delivery.

Beginning in 2014, improperly treated water damaged Flint’s pipes.  The pipes leached lead into Flint’s drinking water.  Recent tests showed improvement, but lead levels continue to be higher than acceptable in many Flint homes.

For nearly a year, the government has been operating water distribution centers in Flint. But many car-less Flint residents have to walk miles to the centers and then carry heavy cases of bottled water back home.   For many Flint residents, picking up bottled water has become a daily chore.

Activists have fought hard for home delivery for more than a year.

“This is a very significant victory for the people of Flint, who now have the assurance from a federal court that they will have access to safe drinking water every day,” says Robert Blake, a member of the Concerned Pastors for Social Action. “But there’s still much more to do to fix Flint.”

A spokeswoman for Governor Rick Snyder says the government's attorneys are reviewing the order.

"In the meantime, the state will continue providing free water resources for all Flint residents, including filters and bottled water delivery for those who request it, just as we have been," says spokeswoman Anna Heaton. 

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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