Federal judge orders bottled water be sent to Flint residents 2 years after crisis strikes

It’s been two years since the Flint water crisis began, and there are still Band-Aid efforts happening to help residents. In a new move to ensure residents have clean water (what a novel concept) a federal judge ordered bottled water delivery to Flint residents’ homes. U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered that four cases of water be delivered to residents’ doors unless they’ve opted out or officials verify that the house has a water filter installed. There are currently water pick up stations where residents can get free water, but that’s not nearly enough.

The Flint water crisis began more than two years ago, when the town switched its water supply from treated Detroit Water and Sewerage Department water to water from the Flint River. The river wasn’t treated properly and caused lead from water pipes to get into the town’s drinking water. President Obama declared Flint in a state of emergency last January and the Centers for Disease Control confirmed that lead levels in children shot up during the water crisis. You cannot drink the water in Flint, so getting clean water into the city is necessary, but the response has been sooooooo slow.

People who don’t have cars can call a community hotline for help getting water, but it’s possible that many residents aren’t even able to do that. People are walking to distribution centers to pick up water and carry it home. Remember: Flint is one of the nation’s poorest cities. Cars and time are something people living in poverty do not have.

Flint Residents Wait For Help As Water Crisis Continues
CREDIT: Sarah Rice/Getty Images

Lawson said as much in his order: “The fact that such items are available does not mean that they are reliably accessible or effective in furnishing safe drinking water to every household.” He added, “Bottled water is heavy, and not all of Flint’s residents are capable of transporting the cases of water effectively.”

The program won’t begin immediately, as the state legislature has to review the order and see how to make it work. So, resident will have to sit tight just a little bit longer (as if they haven’t already). According to Michigan Live, it could cost around $9 million to implement the program. And the state doesn’t know how many residents would need the delivery.

Which is totally insane — the state should have some record of who doesn’t have a water filter and needs help at this point. For a resident to opt out of deliveries, officials would have to “regularly” inspect a household’s water filter. Again, something someone should have probably thought of two years ago. The injunction was brought to Lawson by Concerned Pastors for Social Action, Flint resident Melissa Mays, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the ACLU of Michigan. If ever there was proof that advocacy and non-profit orgs can actually get shit done, this is it.

“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. But there’s still much more to do to fix Flint,” Robert Blake, a member of the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, said in a statement.

Lawson seemed actually annoyed he even had to give such an order. “In modern society, when we turn on a faucet, we expect safe drinking water to flow out,” the judge wrote. “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.”

Although charges have been brought to state officials and lawsuits filed against corporations, Flint residents (again 40 percent of them living below the poverty line), still don’t have a safe water supply. Four cases of bottled drinking water is the least the government could do, even if it should have been done sooner. You don’t get stingy when it comes to providing water to people.