Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer calls for an “all-hands-on-deck” response to Benton Harbor water crisis

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Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer stated Thursday that the state will deal with Benton Harbor’s ongoing water crisis with an “all-hands-on-deck, whole-of-government approach” in an government directive geared toward offering joint resources from the state. She vowed to “move forward with urgency” for town that has skilled elevated ranges of lead in its ingesting water since 2018.

“Every Michigander deserves safe drinking water, and every community deserves lead-free pipes,” Whitmer stated in a statement Thursday. “We will not rest until the job is done and every parent feels confident to give their kid a glass of water knowing that it is safe.”

Under the directive, bottled water have to be supplied till additional discover, and residents are required to have entry to free or low-cost companies like ingesting water assessments and water filters. The state has additionally set a purpose to exchange all of Benton Harbor’s lead service strains inside 18 months. 

Benton Harbor households with youngsters underneath the age of 19 or pregnant individuals enrolled in Medicaid Health plans can even quickly be eligible for free environmental investigations into lead dangers inside their dwelling. The state can even present residents with

companies to cut back lead in ingesting water ought to or not it’s discovered of their houses throughout the investigation. 

“This is what we’ve been waiting for — an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to fix the lead contamination crisis in Benton Harbor,” Reverend Edward Pinkney, president of the Benton Harbor Community Water Council, said Thursday in response to the directive. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there isn’t a recognized protected stage of lead in a toddler’s blood. Negative well being results of ingesting water with a lead presence embrace behavioral points, a decrease IQ, hyperactivity, slowed progress, anemia, cardiovascular results, decreased kidney perform and reproductive issues. 

A petition filed final month by numerous environmental and public advocacy organizations stated the lead in Benton Harbor’s ingesting water has been a “persistent, widespread, and severe public health crisis.” The metropolis has the one water system in Michigan to exceed the EPA’s lead motion stage threshold six consecutive occasions, and it has not had its lead service strains changed in years, violating federal and state necessities, in accordance to the petition. 

On October 6, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services instructed Benton Harbor residents to depend on bottled water as an alternative of faucet water whereas numerous companies work on decreasing lead ranges in water. The division stated bottled water has constantly been made accessible at numerous distribution websites all through town whereas the EPA conducts a research on water filter effectiveness. 

“Standing with the families of Benton Harbor is an environmental justice priority that we must address with urgency,” Michigan’s environmental justice public advocate Regina Strong stated Thursday. 

Tori B. Powell

Tori B. Powell is a breaking information reporter at CBS News. Reach her at [email protected]