FLINT, Michigan- Residents, outraged by the announced end of water distribution in Flint and insulted by the Nestle water giveaway days earlier, spoke out Monday to tell how the decision would affect them and present solutions to guarantee everyone can get water they can trust. They reject the idea that every house has safe water because a small sample was under the threshold for lead when thousands of homes still have lead service lines. “And Lead is not the only problem.” Said Michigan United organizer, LaShaya Darisaw. “Legionella bacteria was responsible for a dozen Flint deaths. We need to test for bacteria and other contaminants in all homes before we even consider ending water distribution.”
Tony Paciorek is one Flint resident who depends on water distribution for his daily needs. “It takes 3 bottles of water to make my coffee. 4 if I want oatmeal.” Paciorek said he’d have to pay about $2.67 a gallon for the bottled water after Nestle marks up the price 70,000%. “This is a clear example of how the economy is rigged in favor of the wealthy and their corporations. Those who can least afford it pay the most for water while companies like Nestle practically get it for free.”
Michigan United is calling for a boycott of all Nestle products until everyone in Flint has safe water. Nestle produces Perrier, Poland Springs, Pure Life & Pellegrino bottled waters and other drinks such as Nescafe, Nesquik and Nestea. They also make a variety dog foods like Alpo, baby foods like Gerber and adult foods like Hot Pockets and Haagen Dazs.
Monica Galloway, one of several Flint city councilmembers to oppose ending water distribution stood with those affected. “For Governor Rick Snyder to end water distribution in Flint is an injustice that clearly demonstrates that inequity and inequality still exist in America.” said Galloway. “This is not about a handout from the State. This is about the state righting a wrong.”
Besides continued water distribution and reversing the Nestle deal, Michigan United is calling for a state budget that includes money designated for water testing, Medicaid expansion to cover everyone who has lived or worked in Flint since 2014, and an end to the Emergency Manager Law that led to the water crisis.
Michigan United is a broad, statewide coalition working to reform our broken immigration system, advance housing justice, protect the rights of low-wage workers and develop leadership. More information can be found at the Michigan United’s website: www.miunited.org