Residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan — a predominantly African American city simply three hours away from Flint, Michigan — are coping with a lead water crisis. People are below orders to not drink, cook dinner and even brush their tooth with faucet water due to the excessive ranges of lead from previous pipes.
And city officers have recognized about the issue for years.
Benton Harbor will get its water from close by Lake Michigan, however residents like Frances Davis say what comes out of the tap just isn’t protected to make use of. She as a substitute turns to bottled water for every part from cooking, to brushing her tooth, to bathing.
In 2018, lead was detected within the consuming water in some properties attributable to older lead pipes. State officers say the city’s water system has failed six lead assessments during the last three years.
In September, involved residents and activists petitioned the EPA for assist. In response, the state began distributing free bottled water to the city’s practically 10,000 residents.
“There’s no urgency with the federal government. There’s no urgency with the state government. And there’s no urgency with the city government. They just don’t get it,” mentioned Reverend Edward Pinkney.
He began distributing water by way of his church two years in the past, and mentioned many residents nonetheless do not know in regards to the crisis.
“We don’t have time,” Pinkney mentioned. “My children, life is at stake, your children, life is at stake.”
But time is not the one situation. Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad mentioned money is an issue as effectively.
The city cannot afford to repair the strains, and state and federal money is not coming quick sufficient. Muhammad identified that the city simply obtained a $5 million verify to work on the issue — funds that have been permitted throughout the Obama administration.
“If I had a magic wand, I would solve it right now. But in government, things don’t work that way” Muhammad mentioned.
As for Davis, she’s thought of promoting her home, however she’s uncertain if anyone would purchase it.
“I’ll just have to board it up and move out,” she mentioned.
So far, lower than 5% of the practically 6,000 strains within the city have been changed. Muhammad desires all of the work completed in two years. He’s additionally hoping President Biden’s infrastructure invoice passes, since it could designate money to assist exchange the pipes.
Omar Villafranca is a CBS News correspondent based mostly in Dallas.