U.S. District Judge David Lawson ordered Michigan to deliver cases of bottled water to Flint residents in need on a weekly basis last week, but the state has since filed a motion to stay the order in the midst of the city’s ongoing crisis.
The motion, filed on Thursday (Nov. 17), cites that the order requires minimum monthly costs of $10.5 million to deliver roughly 400,000 cases of water each week, which could interfere with Flint relief money dedicated to other efforts like nutritional assistance programs for kids.
“The herculean effort required by the court order would be on the magnitude of a large-scale military operation,” Anna Heaton, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Snyder (R), told the Huffington Post in an emailed statement. “The resources to accomplish this would only be available through the activation of the National Guard or the hiring of several logistics companies.”
The state also argues that bottled water pickup has been made available in various locations throughout the city and responders have a system in place to deliver water to residents who are unable to pick it up on their own. According to attorney’s claims, 90 percent of homes have water filters installed as well.
While the court order does not require the state to deliver to households with functioning water filters, Lawson noted that providing filters has not guaranteed proper installment. Testimony from residents also revealed that many have not received water through the state efforts described.
“[The plaintiffs’] evidence raises serious questions as to the efficacy of the emergency response,” he wrote. “Indeed, the endeavor of hunting for water has become a dominant activity in some Flint residents’ daily lives.”
Pastor Allen Overton of the Concerned Pastors for Social Action, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, believes that the state’s decision to reject the court’s decision continues to disenfranchise the Flint community. “What happened to Governor Snyder’s pledge that he would work to fix Flint’s drinking water crisis?” he said. “This action today inflicts more harm on a city that’s already hurting.”