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Michigan Governor Vows to Fix Lead-Infected Water Supply

Benton Harbor turns to bottles of water to survive.

By:  |  October 18, 2021  |    459 Words
GettyImages-516222882 Michigan water

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Michigan officials have told people living in Benton Harbor not to use tap water after a high level of lead was detected. State health officials released a warning to the 9,600 city residents, telling them to use bottled water for drinking, cooking, and brushing their teeth.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is gathering information on water filters that may help deal with the levels of lead in the city’s drinking water.

History of Lead in MI

Benton Harbor, along with other cities across the state, gets its water from Lake Michigan. The contamination happens when the water is transported through lead pipes.

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New water pipes in Flint, Michigan, 2016. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Flint is another city in Michigan that became famous due to lead in the water.

This is not the first time the Benton Harbor water has had too much lead in it. For at least three years, lead levels have been high in the city’s water. In 2018, water testing showed there was a serious issue with the city’s water supply. Lead content of 22 parts per billion was detected. That amount is higher than what was found in Flint during its crisis.

Lead can often be found in older water pipes. Unfortunately, the element is toxic to humans and animals. When plumbing pipes corrode, the chemical element enters the drinking water.

When consumed at even low levels, it can cause serious health problems. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), any degree of lead exposure for children can damage the nervous system.

Fixing the Issue

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has promised to address the crisis with an “all-hands-on-deck” attitude. Her previous plan was to replace the pipes over five years, but that idea was criticized for taking too long. In a recent press conference, the governor shared her efforts to fix the problem saying, “every Michigander deserves safe drinking water, and every community deserves lead-free pipes … we will not rest until the job is done and every parent feels confident to give their kid a glass of water knowing it is safe.”

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (Photo by Elaine Cromie/Getty Images)

Now, Whitmer says, as many as 6,000 lead pipes will be replaced within 18 months.

Whitmer expects to pay to replace the pipes with President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plans, which are currently stuck in Congress. President Biden said he aims to replace every lead pipe in the United States.

The Benton Harbor Community Water Council has urged the president to help, saying the local measures to deal with pipe corrosion are not working.

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