Michigan state officials announced Thursday that Flint residents will not be charged for their water usage in May as part of an effort to help flush the system, but the long-term picture for the lead-poisoned city is far less rosy, according to a new report.
In fact, the Michigan Department of Treasury analysis presented Friday shows that water rates in Flint, already among the highest in the nation, could double within five years unless changes are made to the crumbling water system.
The Detroit News reports:
The typical Flint resident is currently charged about $53.84 per month on the water portion of their bill, not counting sewer costs, according to the report prepared by Raftelis Financial Consultants of Missouri.
But current residential rates are not projected to cover future costs, assuming the city purchases Lake Huron water from Detroit through fiscal year 2017 before transitioning to the [Karegnondi Water Authority] pipeline in 2018.
As a result, the typical water portion of a residential bill is estimated to rise to $110.11 per month by fiscal year 2022 "if no action is taken" to address various issues, according to the report.
Local NBC affliate WEYI added:
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Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri explained there are several reasons for this high cost, ranging from the cost of purchasing the water, to the system being too large for a shrinking city population, to the loss of water from the system that never even reaches the customers.
As NBC25/FOX66 News has reported previously, anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the water in the Flint system is lost through leaking and broken pipes. At the time, officials said a typical city only loses 1 to 2 percent of their water in this way.
The response on social media was a mix of incredulity and dismay, as observers processed what one reporter characterized as "more bad news for Flint."
Remember, too, that Flint rates are for water that residents should not drink without a filter https://t.co/yk0csB7bBj
— James Schirmer (@betajames) May 13, 2016
— Will Austin (@willfaustin) May 13, 2016
Earlier this year, a Food & Water Watch report showed that Flint's water was the most expensive among 500 systems surveyed nationwide.
"It's completely insane for people to be paying so much who are getting frankly so little," said Ben Jealous, former president and CEO of the NAACP, at the time.