DETROIT – A federal appeals court on Friday refused to block the delivery of a free bottle of water in the Flint if residents have problems with lead filters, saying Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration is exaggerating the size and the cost of compliance.
In a 2-1 decision, the court said delivery would be unusual. But it noted that there was “no precedent” for a system that “has caused thousands of people to be exposed to the toxic water.”
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“The ban is in place to ensure that people have access to clean water,” said the judges Damon Keith and Bernice Donald on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Nov. 10, U. S. District Judge David Lawson said that the state and Flint committed to providing water for people who do not have a good working filter and the water. A free bottle of water and filters are available throughout the city for months, but the judge said the answer is still not fully effective.
The state and of the external experts insist the water quality has greatly improved in the Flint, since the city stopped using the Flint River in 2015, although people still are encouraged to include the use of filters. The water of the river was not treated to reduce corrosion, which lead to leakage of old pipelines in the city of about 100,000 inhabitants.
The court of appeal said that the state is “unfair” with earlier claims that it would cost $10.5 million a month to deliver bottled water.
“For homes that have installed water filters, bottled delivery is not ordered. It is only ordered for homes where there is no good filter in place,” the court said.
In dissent, Judge Jeffrey Sutton said that the parties would benefit from more conversation.
“Do the plaintiffs really want the state and the city with the limited resources focused on immediate door-to-door delivery now, in contrast to that measure as a last resort if the defendants can not guarantee that the filters are working in, say, two or three months?” Sutton said.
It is unclear how many homes are eligible for home delivery. The state says that every Flint home visited, and 96 percent had new filters.
“The court has spoken, and the state of Michigan’s foot-dragging must end now,” said Dimple Chaudhary, a lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
In an update submitted Friday, the state said that it wants to meet the judge to discuss “significant logistical problems” with home delivery.
“A sufficient number of the available vans, semi-trucks, drivers, and labourers apparently does not currently exist immediately to the execution of this program. Such an effort can only be carried out in the course of a few months,” Assistant Attorney General Richard Kuhl said.