A Secret War on Lead Protections for Michigan’s Kids

If I were to tell you that our local authorities are quietly trying to repeal recently-adopted state rules that would protect our children from toxic lead in their tap water, would you believe it? Even after Flint? Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

The latest unreported news is that local elected officials are leading the charge to block the new state protections for our kids against lead-contaminated drinking water. After Flint, don’t these politicians understand that the public doesn’t want high levels of lead in their tap water?

Water systems that serve the vast majority of Michigan’s residents, including Mayor Mike Duggan’s Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and the Great Lakes Water Authority have been recruiting communities across the state to support a formal request that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) strike down the state’s lead in drinking water protections. These protections were won in the wake of the Flint water crisis to help ensure other communities do not continue consuming lead in their drinking water. MDEQ recently denied the request to block the lead in drinking water protections. Now the question is: will the water utilities step back or continue fighting against safe drinking water?

The utilities’ arguments boil down to concerns about cost. We agree that we need to figure out how to pay to make our drinking water safe for our kids, and how to ensure that lower-income people can afford their water. However, the last thing we should be doing is throwing out the baby with the bath water. Or really, throw out our babies’ health with the drinking water.

We want to work with Mayor Duggan, city councils and other government officials to elevate the need for investing in lead service line replacement and other water infrastructure improvements and to develop affordability programs to ensure low-income Michiganders have access to safe drinking water. NRDC stands ready to unite with local governments, water utilities, their industry associations, residents across the state who are waking up to failed promises of safe drinking water coming from their tap, and all others who are sick and tired of the poor stewardship we’re providing our sacred waters.

Here’s what you can do

Review the list below to see if your city council adopted a resolution to block the new Lead and Copper Rule from being implemented. If your city council is on the list, reach out and tell them they should be uniting with us to secure funding for lead service line replacements and other drinking water infrastructure upgrades and not wasting your money on fighting against safe drinking water.

So far, the following communities are choosing to fight rather than unite for safe drinking water:

Allen Park
Bay City
Beverly Hills
Bingham Farms
Bloomfield Hills
Bloomfield Township
Boyne City
Brownstown Township
Canton Township
Center Line
Clare
Clawson
Clinton (Village of)
Dearborn
Detroit
Douglas
Elk Rapids
Farmington
Ferndale
Gibraltar
Gladstone
Grosse Pointe
Grosse Pointe Woods
Hamtramck
Hart
Hazel Park
Huntington Woods

Huron Township
Inkster
Jackson
Jonesville
Kingsley
Lake Orion
Lapeer
Lincoln Park
Livonia
Montague
North Muskegon
Northville Township
Oak Park
Plymouth
Riverview
Rochester
Rochester Hills
Romulus
Rogers City
Royal Oak
Saginaw
Southeastern Oakland Co. Water Authority
Sumpter Township
Taylor
Warren
Wayne
Westland

About the Authors

Cyndi Roper

Michigan Senior Policy Advocate, Safe Water Initiative, Healthy People & Thriving Communities Program

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