In June, an analysis from MLive/Flint Journal found Flint's water and sewer rates total about $140 per month, more than any municipality across Genesee County.
But the city has faced concerns in recent weeks from residents about discolored drinking water in Flint's system, prompting officials to flush out the system. The city said in a statement to MLive: "The hydrant flushing is in response to localized complaints of discolored water. Residents in the affected areas may see increased water cloudiness for a short time, but the water will be safe to drink. The water throughout the City meets all (state Department of Environmental Quality) required drinking standards."
Even if it's safe to drink, is a glass of water that smells, tastes, and looks bad worth the high cost Flint residents pay? This summer, residents have dealt with reports of sewage leaking into the Flint River, and others have simply avoided using the tap.
"I don't know how it can be clean if it smells and taste bad," one resident told the local NBC affiliate. The problems began to arise earlier this year after Flint switched from using the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department to the Flint River for drinking water. Officials hope to connect to a new pipeline currently under construction that will run to Lake Erie by late 2016, MLive reports.
But no official seems to know what happened to Flint's water supply to cause the discoloration.
And it's unclear if the problem has persisted. Flint spokesperson Jason Lorenz, who did not return Metro Times' request for comment, told MLive he wasn't sure what caused the discoloration.
Brad Wurfel, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, referred Metro Times requests for comments to DEQ district engineer Michael Prysby, who says by email that "the discoloration appears to have been caused by unauthorized drafting of water from fire hydrants in these areas for street sweeping activities."
"This issue was discussed with the city and the department of public works, and this method of obtaining water for street sweeping will be discontinued," Prysby says.
He adds: "Also, the presence of cast-iron water mains in or near these areas can also cause discoloration, especially under high flow conditions (main breaks, flushing, and unauthorized hydrant use) as this stirs up accumulated sediment and rust (typically associated with old cast-iron mains.)"