Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer along with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Director sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging the agency to lower lead levels in drinking water.
“My administration is firmly committed to doing everything we can to clean up our drinking water, including implementing the toughest protections in the nation against lead in drinking water,” said Governor Whitmer.
In her 2021 budget proposal, Whitmer called for $40 million to local school districts to improve school water quality, $20 million for rapid response to environmental contamination and $10 million for farmers to address toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes.
The fight for cleaner, healthier drinking water is not a new one.
Even prior to the Flint Water Crisis that broke in 2014, the risk of lead exposure has been a major concern among Michigan residents.
In 1998, Michigan voters approved the Clean Michigan Initiative, which gave the state $675 million to spend in cleaning up the environment, and specifically, making the drinking water in Michigan homes safer. That funding expired in 2018 and the city of Flint throughout the years has still struggled to have access to cleaner water.
In 2014, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found that Flint’s water system had ‘significant deficiencies’ just prior to then-Gov. Rick Snyder announcing an end to use bottled water service payments.
After the water-polluted city had been reassured their tainted water was safe to drink when the city temporarily switched to Flint River water in 2014, that was not the case.
As Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint said, the decision to shut down the city’s bottled water distribution centers was a ‘troubling one,’ due to the amount of lead levels found in home water levels above the federal action level.
Exposure to lead can have adverse effects on brain development, can cause learning and behavioral problems, damage to organs, hearing, appetite and digestion.