BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WJRT) – Another Michigan community is in the early stages of a water crisis. The state of Michigan is urging people who live in Benton to use bottled water for cooking and drinking.
Melissa Mays is a Flint woman who has been a strong advocate for environmental justice for for the city of Flint knows all too well what the people of Benton Harbor are going through.
”You know they are majority poor, majority African-American community, it mirrors exactly what is going on in Flint”, said Mays, the founder of Water You Fighting For.
She was one of the first people in Flint to bring to light the city’s water crisis. Seven and half years after that crisis began, the clean water advocate is on the front lines, with other advocates from Flint, fighting for residents of Benton Harbor – a city on the west side of the state.
They have discovered that what is happening in Benton Harbor is very similar to what happened in Flint.
“They changed our water source in Flint, they didn’t properly treat the water and then they covered it up,” said Mays. “Same thing in Benton Harbor.”
According to Mays, in Benton Harbor they switched how they were treating the water then cut cut corners and cut cost.
“Now they have got high lead levels and who knows what else,” said Mays.
She said what is happening in the Benton Harbor community, experiencing elevated levels of lead in the water, has been going on for about three years.
She and other clean water advocates have been helping residents navigate the sometimes murky waters of environmental justice.
”We signed on to a petition that was filed last month for the EPA to step-in to get help,” she said.
Mays also said they have been co-signing on letters to the Governor asking to get bottled water to the residents of Benton Harbor.
“They need bottled water,” she said. “The lead levels that they have actually found have been extremely high but also they use a different kind of corrosion control that top filters might not even be effective with.”
She and others who have gone through the Flint Water Crisis have learned a lot in the seven plus years since it started. They want the community of Benton Harbor to know that they are not alone in this fight.
“Let them know it is not their fault; they don’t deserve this. We are going to do everything we can to help them get through this so they don’t have to drag their disaster out for seven and half years and counting like we in Flint have,” Mays said.
The Flint woman and others have been meeting with leaders in Benton Harbor over the past several months.
Mays plans to be at the next Benton Harbor community meeting scheduled for this weekend.
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