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Flint to start shutting off water service to delinquent residential customers

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

The city of Flint will start cutting off service to delinquent residential water customers next month.

The city plans to cutoff water service at two apartment complexes and 18 residential customers that are delinquent on their water and sewer bills.

A city spokeswoman says the accounts have not been paid for at least five months, and have racked up more than $2,500 to $6,000 in unpaid bills.  In some cases, the water and sewer bills haven’t been paid for years.

“Customer payments are necessary to help the City of Flint collect the funds needed to pay over $1.2 million per month for treated water and provide for water and sewer services as Flint continues to recover from the effects of the man-made water crisis," says David Sabuda, Flint’s Interim Chief Financial Officer.

But even with a recently ended state subsidy, only about half of Flint residential customers are current on their water bills.

Many Flint residents say they don’t want to pay for tap water they don’t trust is safe to drink, citing high lead levels and other problems.  Others say they can’t afford to pay the relatively high rates the city charges for water.

“We thank the residential and commercial customers who have complied with the program and are making payments,” said Mayor Karen Weaver, in a written statement. “I understand this is a difficult situation for many people, and we as city leaders are facing some hard decisions as well."

Last year, the city started shutting off water service to delinquent commercial accounts.  After the shutoffs started, the percentage of commercial accounts that were current rose to 98%.  

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio 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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