The state of Michigan filed a motion Thursday seeking to be relieved of the “unnecessary” and “insurmountable burden” of delivering cases of bottled water to Flint, Mich., residents affected by the lead-contaminated water crisis.
In their motion, officials for Gov. Rick Snyder likened the requirements of a court order issued last week to a large-scale military operation, and said that it would cost the state at least $10.45 million a month or $125 million a year, the Detroit News reports.
Because of dangerously high lead levels, residents of Flint have been advised for the last year not to drink water from their taps unless they have a filter. Last week, U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson ordered home delivery of four cases of water per resident each week unless the state or the city can verify that residents have a properly installed and maintained faucet water filter.
On Thursday, attorneys for Michigan Treasurer Nick Khouri and the Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board asked Lawson to stay his order while the state prepares an appeal, because it “increases the scope of the state’s emergency response to an unnecessary and insurmountable degree, particularly in light of the injunction’s time constraints.”
The appeal was criticized by Michigan Democratic Leader Jim Ananich.
“If the governor had made a Herculean effort to address this crisis from the start, they wouldn’t need to continue this legal maneuvering,” Ananich said in a Thursday statement, referring to the three months that passed between the acknowledgment of elevated lead levels and a January state emergency declaration.
According to the Detroit News, the state currently distributes 77,996 cases of bottled water every three weeks through distribution centers, community partners and limited home deliveries.
Lawson’s ruling last week is the result of a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and Flint residents to try to speed up the slow process of removing the lead service lines blamed for contaminating the city’s water. While Lawson has not decided to lift his order per the state’s motion, he has given the plaintiffs in the lawsuit until Wednesday to file an answer. The city of Flint is also able to file an answer if it chooses to.
“It’s sad that the State of Michigan continues to disenfranchise the community of Flint,” Pastor Allen Overton, a plaintiff and member of Concerned Pastors for Social Action, said in a statement. “What happened to Gov. Snyder’s pledge that he would work to fix Flint’s drinking water crisis? This action today inflicts more harm on a city that’s already hurting.”
Read more at the Detroit News.