“Every Michigander deserves access to safe drinking water and every community deserves lead-free pipes,” Whitmer, a Democrat, said in the directive. She said the city’s water system “has failed to meet the regulatory standard for lead” for six consecutive sampling periods over the last three years.
The governor directed state departments and agencies to work in coordination with local and federal partners, community organizations and the private sector to “expeditiously” take action to ensure access to safe drinking water and free bottled water, as well as free or low-cost lead-related health care services.
Whitmer also directed available state resources to support Benton Harbor in replacing lead service lines, and directed state agencies and departments to “encourage and assist” homeowners to replace lead pipes in their homes.
“Departments and agencies must expeditiously take all appropriate action to ensure that information about their work is communicated to residents of Benton Harbor and that residents have access to clear and up-to-date information about the harmful effects of lead exposure, including the effects of lead in drinking water on vulnerable populations, the replacement of lead service lines, and lead data results for their community,” the directive says.
The state is attempting to address the inequities of water equality through the Michigan Clean Water Plan announced last year, which dedicates a total of $500 million toward a “comprehensive water infrastructure package,” with $207 million in investments made directly related to clean, safe drinking water.