Senate probe into state’s handling of Benton Harbor water crisis

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — The Michigan legislature is now investigating the Benton Harbor water crisis – citing in a new letter the state perhaps could have done more to prevent lead in water years ago. 

Thursday morning, members of Benton Harbor’s city council will head to Lansing to request $11 million from the legislature, in addition to the 10 million already allocated to the city in the state’s new budget.  

It will be on the heels of a letter sent to Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) by Senator Ed McBroom, Chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee, requesting information on the state’s response to chronic lead contamination since 2019. 

Sen. McBroom cited a new report in his letter which he said “claims the department failed to notify residents for the better part of two years their drinking water was unsafe.” 

Benton Harbor first issued its own water advisory in 2018. 

ABC57 reached out to Michigan EGLE, which told us: “EGLE has received the Oversight Committee’s letter and intends to provide them with the requested information. EGLE looks forward to showing our work regarding the activities that the Committee is requesting, including how Benton Harbor officials and residents were informed of drinking water lead exceedances. EGLE will also illustrate the consistent and ongoing technical support the state continues to extend the city and its public water supply to establish effective corrosion control, reduce lead levels in drinking water, and invest in improving their water system’s infrastructure.

The letter asks for EGLE to provide information in 10 days, meanwhile, the state said 35,000 cases of bottled water will continue being delivered each week.   

To city council will speak to the legislature at 10:30 Thursday morning. Click here to watch. 

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