The mayor of Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday announced the city will stop billing for water as it tries to implement a program designed to assist residents who have been exposed to lead poisoning.
Michigan’s governor last week approved a $30 million plan to help Flint residents with water bills amid the "man-made disaster," Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement, and the bills are being suspended while the city tries to get that program going.
"Flint residents need and deserve this relief," Weaver said. "I’ve said from day one, Flint residents should not have to pay for water they can not and are not using.
Residents of the city of more than 99,000 have been told not to use unfiltered tap water after a switch of the city’s municipal water source to the Flint River exposed them to high levels of lead.
The problem was exacerbated by local government resistance to warnings, the Environmental Protection Agency has said. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has called the debacle a failure at every level of government and has vowed to help the city. The city has since switched back to Detroit water but corrupted pipes remain an issue.
Meanwhile, the state of Michigan's outside legal fees related to the ongoing Flint lead-contaminated water crisis could climb as high as $2.7 million, Snyder's office said Tuesday.
The fees are to be paid with public money. Snyder’s office previously estimated the state’s legal fees at $1 million in February.