LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Whitmer administration says it has an “all hands on deck” strategy to address the lead crisis of Benton Harbor, but one community activist is giving the governor low marks for her handling of the water contamination.
When Rev. Edward Pinkney was asked what score he would give the Whitner administration on a scale of one to ten, Pinkney did not hold back.
“I’d give her a four,” said Pinkney.
For over three years, the 10,000 citizens of Benton Harbor have had lead in their water, and the governor’s office contends it has worked hard to eliminate the problem during the past few years.
Because the problem has not been eradicated, the Whitmer team now wants everyone to drink bottled water.
But at this weeks House Oversight Committee Hearing, the state environmental director had to be asked not once, not twice, but four times before she finally admitted the water was unsafe to drink.
“So you don’t think the water there is safe to drink?” asked Rep. Cynthia Johnson.
“The state of Michigan wants…this is a determination by DHHS,” replied EGLE Director Liesl Clark.
“Come on…lets talk like normal people here, is the water safe or not?” asked Johnson.
“Yes.. no it is not safe,” answered Clark.
Community activist Rev. Pinkney and others filed a petition with the EPA to enter the crisis and it was only after that, he argues, that the Whitmer administration took more action.
“They didn’t take it seriously and they didn’t take it seriously until we filled a petition on Sept. ninth. All those other years, it was it will go away. This was the mentality I was receiving from EGLE and the city that lead would some how disappear,” said Pinkney.
But Clark refutes that charge and underscores the administration’s attitude about this crisis.
“There’s an escalation response and the need for urgency which is why we’re all taking about making sure we’re getting the lead out as soon as possible,” said Clark.
The reverend says the governor needs to go door to door in his city to pass out the water while the governor is waiting for the GOP legislature to send $11 million more dollars to remove all the lead pipes within 18 months.