Michigan Community Faces Water Crisis, Demands Replacement of Lead Pipes | Detroit News | Detroit

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  • sink faucet.

As Congress continues to negotiate infrastructure and social safety net bills, environmental justice advocates say measures such as replacing lead pipes cannot wait.

The drinking water systems of more than nine million homes across the country contain lead pipes, with black, brown and low-income communities being disproportionately affected.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation, said eliminating lead pipes would benefit children’s health and school performance because the Lead exposure is linked to children’s learning and reading difficulties.

“It also helps increase values ​​within communities, property values, because we know there is a huge wealth gap between black and brown communities and white communities,” Ali explained. “There are so many different positive things that can happen.”

Last month, environmental groups filed an emergency petition with the Environmental Protection Agency seeking a free and safe supply of drinking water in Benton Harbor, a predominantly black community in southwestern Michigan. . The city has reported extremely high lead levels in local water for three years.

Ali noted that the federal threshold for taking action is when lead is detected at a level above 15 parts per billion. In Benton Harbor, some of the water in homes has been tested at over 800 parts per billion. He added that the water crisis, like what happened in Flint, is an example of disinvestment in a community.

“We have ‘sacrifice zones’ across our country where people have made the decision to divest in certain areas,” Ali said. “And often those areas are our black and brown communities and the native communities, sometimes our low-wealth white community. So we have a chance to change that dynamic.”

More than 60% of Americans in recent polls say they support $1 trillion legislation currently in Congress to improve roads, bridges, broadband and other infrastructure, including funding for pipe replacements in lead.

Originally published October 8, 2021 on Michigan News Connection. It is shared here with permission.

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