Congresswoman Maxine Waters compared the hazards of payday loans to the water supply crisis in Flint, Mich., saying the loans are “contaminated with excess fees.”

Credit and drinking water are essential, but access to loans, like access to water, should be safe, said Waters during a hearing held by the House Financial Services Committee, where she serves as lead Democrat member.

“Anyone who says there is not a problem with payday loans is wrong,” Waters said Thursday. “We have a responsibility to step in when our constituents tell us they are hurting. Too many credit products are contaminated with excess fees.”

Waters was countering Republican claims that tightly regulating payday and other small dollar lenders would dangerously restrict the availability of credit.

She criticized the payday loan industry for sometimes approving multiple loans to the same people at interest rates that often exceed 500 percent.

Some of her colleagues agreed.

“The circle of debt from payday loans is one of the most painful things I have seen in peoples’ lives,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, also a member of the finance committee

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, a Texas Democrat, said small-dollar loans are a major reason people end up at the doors at social services agencies in his state.

Committee Democrats also said small-dollar loans can be toxic because thousands of borrowers have lost their means to get to their jobs because they have put their cars up them up as collateral for auto-title loans and have not been able to repay them.

The hearing came as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is preparing regulations of small dollar lenders.