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Judge rejects request for stay; says state must deliver bottled water to Flint homes

Many Flint residents still rely on bottled water.
Mark Brush
Michigan Radio
Flint residents still rely on bottled water a years after the crisis started.

A federal judge says the state must start weekly deliveries of bottled water to Flint residents who do not have properly installed or maintained filters.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson rejected the state's request that he put that ruling on hold while the issue is appealed.

The state had argued it would be "an immediate, insurmountable burden" to deliver water door-to-door to everyone without a working filter.

Tens of thousands of free filters have been handed out to Flint residents in the year since high levels of lead were detected in city tap water.  The filters can screen out the lead, but only if installed and used correctly. Many Flint residents say they can’t install the filters.  And the city's nine water distribution sites can be difficult for some people to reach.

In denying the state's request for a stay, Judge Lawson said the state had mischaracterized the relief ordered by the court, and made “factual assertions that are unfaithful to the record."

Judge Lawson’s decision caught many by surprise, including Flint Mayor Karen Weaver.

“We’re going to try to comply with whatever is put in place because one thing is we always want the residents to get what they need,” says Weaver. 

Weaver says “the city does not have the money to do what’s necessary” but will try to comply if it comes to that. 

The focus now shifts to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The state has asked the federal appeals court to block the lower court order.   

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
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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