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Residents ordered to pay for lead contaminated water, state of emergency declared

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FLINT, Mich. – Residents in one Michigan town are furious after being forced to pay for water they say they can’t use.

“I just paid a water bill, $311, shut off notice or they was gonna turn my water off. I can’t drink it,” said Tonya Calhoun.

Calhoun says she paid her Flint water bill, but she’s far from satisfied with the liquid flowing from the tap.

The water supply has a high lead concentration, which could be harmful if ingested.

However, a judge ruled that residents must pay their bill despite the fact that, in many cases, they only use it for bathing.

“The water is just no good, you know, and we have to take our showers in this stuff,” Bill McCluskey told WNEM. “We itch after that. We have to buy water. It’s not fair.”

City residents say they are insulted by the city’s demand to pay up or lose service all together.

“Why am I paying you $311 for some water that I can’t even use? Can’t cook with it. I can’t do anything with it and the funny part about it is, you know it’s harmful,” Calhoun said.

However, city leaders say it is important for residents to pay for their bills, whether they feel it is justified or not.

“The number of residents paying their bills has definitely increased and that has provided some financial stability and the ability then to respond to providing quality service,” said Jody Lundquist, Flint chief financial officer.

According to Seattle PI, the residents’ water bills tripled when city leaders decided to source water from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron.

On Tuesday, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency for Genessee County.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Michigan is also investigating, office spokeswoman Gina Balaya told CNN.

In November, several citizens filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that they suffered from skin lesions, hair loss, high levels of lead in the blood, vision loss, memory loss, depression and anxiety.

The city also ordered public schools to stop running water for taps and water fountains, according to WEYI.