October 20, 2021
October 20, 2021
Lansing, Mich., October 20, 2021 – Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has known that dangerous levels of lead have been present in the Benton Harbor drinking water for over two years. The administration failed to provide bottled water for pickup until late September 2021 and did not begin delivering water to the most vulnerable, homebound residents until October 19, 2021. The Detroit News reports:
“State and city officials treated Benton Harbor’s drinking water with a corrosion chemical blend that failed to control harmful levels of lead for more than two years and rejected federal requirements to fully study its effectiveness. As state officials waited to see if the treatment reduced lead to acceptable levels, they didn’t warn Benton Harbor residents that their water was unsafe or provide alternatives, such as bottled water, until late September.”
On October 2, 2019, Reverend Edward Pinkney, the Benton Harbor Community Water Council president, informed Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist of lead in the drinking water. Then, the Whitmer-Gilchrist administration did not deliver bottled water to residents for over two years. WATCH:
On Monday, Whitmer refused to answer WDIV reporter Hank Winchester if more should have been done sooner. WATCH:
In her first visit to Benton Harbor after acknowledging their inadequate response on Tuesday morning, Whitmer did not even notify the media she would be traveling to the community.
Over the past two years, Whitmer’s inaction has turned a difficult situation for Benton Harbor residents into a dire one. Testing has revealed Benton Harbor’s pipes contain lead levels at 22 Parts Per Billion (PPB), despite health experts stating there is no safe level of lead.
“Gretchen Whitmer failed the people of Benton Harbor by failing to warn them of lead tainted drinking water and not distributing bottled water,” said Eric Ventimiglia, Executive Director for Michigan Rising Action. Ventimiglia continued, “As residents of Benton Harbor were drinking water with high levels of lead, Whitmer spent the past two years campaigning to be Vice President and violating her own public health orders, while knowingly failing to take any actions to protect the people of Benton Harbor.”