Leaky pipe trickling into residents' pocketbooks? - WNEM TV 5

Leaky pipe trickling into residents' pocketbooks? One Flint woman thinks so

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A routine water shutoff turns out to be anything but routine and could now be costing one cash strapped city.

The concrete on Taylor Street on Flint's north side is being watered because a failing pipe and the price tag is on the behalf of the taxpayers. As gallons gush down the street, neighbors can't help but think about the burden they're already dealing with. Since January 2011, city water rates in Flint have gone up 110 percent.

"I feel like I've got to pay for it, the water that's running down the road, and I am not using it," said Flint resident Lisa Chatman.

"The water bill each month is about $160," said Asabian Jones, addressing the cost of an average monthly statement.

Jones is a hairdresser, a single mother of two boys, and says times are tough and it's a struggle to get by. She says the leak started when crews hooked her house back up to the main water line two weeks ago.

"A lot of people will just ride by something like that and won't call and so imagine it being running for weeks, months, in some places, and then they're not going to say this is why your bill has doubled," said Jones.

She's called the city to report it. So far nothing has been done.

"It just makes sense to me that something like this would cause it to possibly triple," Jones said.

We called Flint to see if they are aware of this problem and they told TV5 they are. City Spokesperson Jason Lorenz said there are factors that go into this. Lorenz said the water department closes early because of budget cutbacks, there aren't that many people who work for this department, and there is a laundry list of similar situations across the city.

Lorenz said the work is also complicated as it is an interdepartmental issue. The city's parks and recreation department must cut a tree down near the leak to allow the water department to fix the problem.

Asabian Jones said it has to be a priority because she doesn't want to see additional fees on her monthly water bill.

"Everybody is dealing with high water bills now," Jones said.

Lorenz said this project is going to become a priority.

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