News Releases from Region 05

06/28/2021

CHICAGO (June 28, 2021) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hosted a community roundtable with organizers representing Flint, Michigan and Detroit, Michigan to highlight the experience of these two cities with lead in drinking water. This roundtable discussion, along with nine others being held with communities across the country, is essential to informing EPA’s review of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) revisions to ensure that the rule is grounded in the lived experience of individuals and communities that are most at-risk of exposure to lead in drinking water.

“The impacts of the water crisis on residents, on children, and on the community are long-lasting. The people of Flint have shown incredible resilience and strength, coming together to care for each other and identify solutions. Strong local, state and federal partnerships are helping Flint to move forward and strengthen the community,” said Elizabeth Cisar, senior advisor for EPA’s Office of Water. “It is essential that EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule is informed by the experience of Flint and other cities across the midwest that are dealing with the legacy of lead pipes. I want to thank U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, and the community groups that organized this roundtable for their leadership on this critical public health issue.”

“People in Michigan know the importance of clean and safe drinking water. Benton Harbor, Highland Park, Ferndale, Royal Oak, Detroit and Flint are just a few of the Michigan communities dealing with excessive lead in their drinking water,” said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “I appreciate the leadership of Administrator Regan and efforts of the EPA in working with local communities in Michigan so that our families can trust the water that flows from their taps.”

“Because Flint residents unknowingly drank, bathed in and cooked with lead-contaminated water, we have regrettably become experts in lead contamination. Here’s one thing we know: a more robust Lead and Copper Rule could have minimized the severity of the Flint water crisis. Today’s meeting is an important way for the EPA to hear and include Flint voices as we work together towards the ultimate goal of zero lead in our water,” said Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint).

“As we’ve learned from our lived experiences with the water crisis, the Lead and Copper Rule shapes our lives and health in profound and life-changing ways. Since the LCR was created in 1991, there have been significant advances in science and good practices related to identifying, addressing and communicating with the public about lead in drinking water. Now is the time to make the LCR truly protective of public health and equitable for communities of color across the U.S. who face health disparities due to environmental justice issues of living with aging infrastructure, exposure to higher contaminant levels and, all too often, a slow governmental response to pollution exposure. We look forward to lifting up stories from the Flint community to illustrate the policy changes that are sorely needed,” said Mona Munroe-Younis, executive director for Environmental Transformation Movement Flint.

“The EPA LCRR roundtables have offered our four Michigan cities — Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, and Highland Park — a much needed opportunity to share our communities’ needs to bring greater visibility and solutions to the problems of lead, particularly in water. Our residents are living with multiple layers of exposure and health consequences due to lead service lines that are way overdue for removal, and the long-standing dangers of lead in paint, dust, soil in and around our homes. Local, state and federal governments must prioritize lead service line removal over other water utility programs by increasing the pace of work and investing deeply in remediation grants for these environmental justice communities. Nothing short is acceptable nor safe for our children,” said Sylvia Orduño, Detroit community representative and organizer for Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

Participants included U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Senator Jim Ananich, City of Flint officials, Flint Rising, Environmental Transformation Movement of Flint, Water You Fighting For, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, City of Detroit officials, Michigan NAACP, Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and Michigan Welfare Rights Organization.

Additional information on the virtual roundtable, including how to watch a recording, is available at: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/lead-and-copper-rule-revisions-virtual-engagements.

Background

Lead can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including decreasing IQ, focus, and academic achievement. EPA is committed to following the best science to address lead in the nation’s drinking water and will take the appropriate time to review the LCR Revisions and make sure communities that have been impacted the most are protected. In March of this year, EPA announced an extension of the effective date of the Revised Lead and Copper Rule so that the agency could seek further public input on the rule. The agency hosted virtual public listening sessions on April 28, 2021, and May 5, 2021. On May 26, 2021, EPA announced the ten communities that were selected for virtual roundtable discussions on EPA’s LCR Revisions. Members of the public may also submit comments via the docket at: http://www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0255 until July 30, 2021.

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