Michigan city declares emergency over lead; governor visits

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Dwayne Yarbrough directs traffic as volunteers distribute cases of bottled water to residents at God’s Household of Faith, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, in Benton Harbor, Mich. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday ordered a “whole-of-government” response to elevated levels of lead in tap water in the southwestern Michigan city of Benton Harbor and vowed to accelerate the replacement of its lead pipes. (Don Campbell/The Herald-Palladium via AP)

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan’s governor has visited Benton Harbor to listen to residents who have been urged to use bottled water because of elevated levels of lead in their tap water.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stop Tuesday wasn’t publicly disclosed until it was over. It came hours after city commissioners unanimously declared an emergency and empowered the Benton Harbor mayor to lead the city’s response.

Like many communities, Benton Harbor gets water from Lake Michigan, but the system moves water through old lead pipes.

Lead levels in water have exceeded the federal threshold. Michigan is providing free water to residents for cooking and drinking.

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