Benton Harbor residents file class action lawsuit over lead water crisis

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. - Benton Harbor residents have filed a class action lawsuit against state and city officials over the lead water crisis.

In the lawsuit filed this week, plaintiffs accuse government leaders of making an active decision not to enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act by failing to tell the public about extreme, toxic levels of lead in their water. 

The lawsuit names Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Mayor Marcus Muhammad, and a dozen other officials or entities as defendants. 

The governor's office issued the following statement:

"Every Michigander deserves access to safe drinking water and every community deserves lead-free pipes. Since the first lead exceedance was detected in 2018, the State of Michigan has been on the ground in Benton Harbor working with local partners on a solution to address the aging infrastructure. In accordance with the state’s strict Lead and Copper Rule, the state began urging the city to immediately conduct outreach to residents and ordered the city to apply corrosion control to try to bring down the levels and stabilize the drinking water. That is why the governor has issued an executive directive to bring a whole-of-government approach to ensuring that the people of Benton Harbor have safe drinking water. The state is providing free bottled water and setting an aggressive timeline to replace all the lead pipes in the next 18 months, which would’ve otherwise taken nearly 15 years to complete under state law. Work began this week to replace lead pipes in Benton Harbor, and we will continue to take every step necessary with the urgency and haste this threat demands to ensure parents in Benton Harbor can give their kids a glass of water with confidence.”

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