EPA comes in as another black Michigan town faces water crisis

A predominantly black town in the state of Michigan struggles to get clean drinking water and no, it’s not Flint. It’s Benton Harbor, Michigan, and it’s not the first time it’s happened.

A recent report from Associated press highlighted the state’s failure to provide potable water to black taxpayers in Benton Harbor. Lead levels in the city’s water supply are said to be higher than they were in Flint, Mich., At the height of its water crisis. As a result, many residents of Benton Harbor have been forced to rely on bottled water for their own purposes, but that’s not always an option. Several homebound residents told the Associated press that there is a hotline to call if someone needs drinking water, but the water supply often takes too long. With everything happening, local leaders in Benton Harbor, Michigan have been forced to declare a state of emergency.

The problem is clear. Benton Harbor residents need clean water, but it’s unclear exactly what caused the problem in the first place. If public authorities do not identify the root cause, the city may face a third water crisis down the line.

“What’s different about Benton Harbor from Flint – we don’t really know what caused the contamination there [in Benton Harbor], ” Nick leonard recently said WDET in Michigan.

“We have seen elevated lead levels from 2018 onwards, but there has been no similar decision or discernible event that appears to have caused this.”

Governor of Michigan Gretchen whitmer took the first step towards solving this problem. MLive.com reported that Whitmer has signed an executive directive that aims to address statewide failures in drinking water. The six-part plan will require state officials to conduct a line-by-line review of drinking water policies, among other changes in the way the state regulates the supply of drinking water.

“Our top priority here remains to ensure safe drinking water for every Michigander, no matter who they are or where they live. We will not rest until every community has clean drinking water and every parent feels confident to give their child a drink of water, ”said Whitmer.

Officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency are also intervening. EPA members will visit approximately 300 homes in Benton Harbor to test the water.

“From next week we will enter the houses and collect the water that goes through both the filter and the water itself without the filters” Terra Fong from the EPA said The Herald-Palladium.

While these efforts are a step in the right direction, this problem extends far beyond a single city. A recent report from the University of Michigan found that predominantly black cities in Michigan are systematically disadvantaged when it comes to water quality because of state laws.

“This state and this country is used to making decisions based on race that lead to racial disparities,” Rita brooks of the Flint Justice Partnership Recount Michigan Daily.

“It is unfortunate that to this day people still experience discrimination and environmental racism due to factors beyond their control. “

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