A sign tells Flint residents that boiling water doesn't remove lead on February 7, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Months ago the city told citizens they could use tap water if they boiled it first, but now say it must be filtered to remove lead.
Sarah Rice—Getty Images
February 17, 2016 12:12 PM EST

Flint, Mich., residents were paying the highest water rates in the country even as their pipes were poisoning them with lead, according to a watchdog study.

The Food and Water Watch study, released Tuesday, examined the country’s 500 largest water systems and found that Flint residents spent nearly twice the national average on water service — about $864 a year, the Detroit Free Press reports.

One of the study’s authors said the rate “far exceeds what the United Nations designates as affordable for water and sewer service,” pointing out that the U.N. says households should spend no more than 3% of income on water, while Flint residents paid 7%.

Read more: The Poisoning of an American City

A lawyer who has sued to reduce the rates says they were high in part because the city had diverted water funding for other uses. The city did not respond to the Free Press’s request for comment.

[Detroit Free Press]

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