Seven years after Flint’s water crisis, another Michigan community faces water problems


Seven years after an aging water pipe infrastructure problem and a change in water source caused Flint’s water crisis, another predominantly black town in Michigan faces the same fate.

In September, a group of environmental agencies filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to authorize the administration of drinking water in Benton Harbor, Mich., After discovering there were elevated levels of lead. in the water supply since 2018.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the drinking water systems of 9 million homes in the United States contain lead pipes and black, brown and low-lying communities are disproportionately affected every time these systems fail.

Seven years after an aging water pipe infrastructure problem and a change in water source caused Flint’s water crisis, another predominantly black town in Michigan faces the same fate. The photo above is a photo of a water tap.
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Mustafa Santiago Ali is vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization at the National Wildlife Federation. On October 8, Ali told the Metro Times how avoiding the use of lead pipes would benefit children’s health and retention in school, as lead is linked to a host of difficulties in adolescents.

“It also helps to increase values ​​within communities, real estate values ​​because we know there is a huge wealth gap that exists between black and brown communities and white communities,” Ali told the outlet. . “There are so many different positives that can happen.”

Ali also mentioned that although the federal threshold for taking action on lead-related issues is detected at a level above 15 parts per billion, the water in some homes in Benton Harbor has been tested at “over 800 parts. per billion “.

“The water crisis, like what happened in Flint, is an example of disinvestment in a community,” Ali continued. “We have ‘sacrifice zones’ across our country, where people have made the decision to divest in certain areas. And often those areas are our black and brown communities and our indigenous communities, sometimes our low wealth white community. . So we have a chance to change that dynamic. “

In April 2014, Flint’s water supply was diverted from the city of Detroit to the Flint River. The corrosive water caused lead to detach from pipes in the water supply, contaminating and poisoning thousands of Flint residents. More than a dozen residents have died from Legionnaires’ disease and a number of children have experienced life-changing cognitive problems as a result of the infection.

Flint’s water supply was restored to its old water supply system in October 2015.

When the water crisis hit, the city was under the control of a state-appointed emergency official as well as former Michigan Governor Rick Synder. A number of city officials and others involved in the crisis have received harsh criticism and heavy fines since 2014.