Today Liesl Clark, Director of EGLE, testified before the House Over Sight Committee about lead service lines in Benton Harbor. In the last month Benton Harbor has declared a local state of emergency because of lead contaminants in drinking water. The problem stems from the city’s main service lines into residential areas. It’s compounded by a lack of detailed records on the state level of how many homes still use lead pipes in many communities.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that Michigan has nearly half a million lead pipes still in the ground. This issue extends beyond Flint in 2014 and Benton Harbor today. Both of these events are a part of a much larger conversation around Michigan’s clean drinking water infrastructure, and what we do and do not know about our water services.
Senator Ed McBroom says residents should not panic. He suggested that they talk with local officials about what work is being done to ensure their municipal water is safe. As the Senate Over Sight Committee Chair, McBroom said he requested documents relating to the issue from EGLE, Benton Harbor and the Governor’s office. He ‘d like the information to begin flowing in as soon as possible, but McBroom expects further discussion will take place in about a month. McBroom said in order for the state to understand and properly investigate the extent of the issue both sides need to work together toward clean water for all Michigan citizens.