Whitmer talks Benton Harbor response and federal infrastructure bill


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says there should be state and nationwide strategies to deal with outdated water infrastructure before it becomes a problem.

“Benton Harbor is a prime example of old infrastructure that we need to rebuild, frankly,” Whitmer said. “And that is not unique to Benton Harbor. It is playing out all across the state of Michigan. We’ve got water infrastructure that is 100 years old in many communities that it’s just a matter of time before there’s some sort of a failure, whether it is a pipe burst or it is old pipes that are leaching. And so it’s important comprehensive solution.”

Benton Harbor residents are drinking bottled water after lead limits in the municipal water system exceeded action levels. The city has declared a state of emergency and Whitmer’s administration says the goal is to replace every lead line in the city in 18 months.

Whitmer said she’s working with federal representatives to support the Benton Harbor response and calling on Congress to include more money for lead remediation in the federal infrastructure bill that has been stalled amid disputes about a larger social spending package.

“It’s my hope the (Congress) gets something done this week or next. Frankly, it should have been done a long time ago, in my humble opinion,” Whitmer said. “Time is of the essence and this is not unique to Michigan or to one community in Michigan. This is a nationwide problem.”

Asked if the state should have done more sooner to help Benton Harbor, Whitmer said “there are lessons to be learned and changes to be made.” She added she thinks there should be a state law requiring affirmative reporting.

Above, Whitmer discusses more about Benton Harbor, the COVID-19 vaccine for children, proposed auto insurance refunds and more.

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