FLINT, Mich., Nov. 12 (UPI) — A federal judge ordered Flint, Mich., leaders to provide home delivery of bottled water to households that have not been properly fitted with water filters to protect against further lead contamination.
U.S. District Judge David Lawson said city and state governments must provide at least four cases of water per person every week as a way to help those who cannot pick up supplies from distribution sites located throughout the city. Lawson said residents must be given the home-delivery option unless the government can prove the home has a well-installed and maintained water filter or if the household declines the water.
“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,” Lawson said. “Indeed, the endeavor of hunting for water has become a dominant activity in some Flint residents’ daily lives.”
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver vowed to “do everything we can to abide by the order, including reaching out to leaders at the state level for help.”
“We appreciate the judge’s order and agree that clean water should be easily accessible to everyone in the city of Flint, and more needs to be done to make that happen,” she said.
The judge’s decision comes after legal action by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Natural Resources Defense Council and several other human-rights groups.
“Judge Lawson’s wise ruling ensures that all Flint residents finally will have access to a reliable supply of safe drinking water until the lead pipes are replaced,” said Michael J. Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan.
Flint was thrust into the national spotlight after researchers found some Flint children had elevated levels of lead in their blood. The city changed its water supply in 2014 from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The river water was never treated before it reached households, causing lead from plumbing and pipes to leach.