MILWAUKEE – A new coalition of community groups in Milwaukee is expressing concerns about Milwaukee’s piping system that transfer fresh water to homes.
The Freshwater for Life Action Coalition – made up of nine organizations from the city’s north and south sides including NAACP Milwaukee and the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin – is calling on the Department of Public Works to suspend road construction until engineers can ensure the construction doesn’t negatively affect the pipes underground.
Residents near an area of construction are concerned that the activity may loosen lead in lateral pipes.
The construction at 13th Street, between Rogers and Becher streets, has those who live there worried for their health.
In a news conference last week, coalition members expressed concern that the vibrations from construction equipment would loosen protective layering around the lead pipes.
“The City of Milwaukee cannot be considered the ‘Fresh Water Capital’ if [city leaders] cannot provide lead-free drinking water to the people living in its own backyard,” Robert Miranda, a spokesperson for the coalition, “We need new testing of water immediately so we can see where we are for real.”
Dr. Pat McManus of the Black Health Coalition said lead exposure has tangible, negative health effects, ones she can see in young children.
“One of the clients that we’re working with, her son was diagnosed with having increased lead. And he was a part that actually makes him violent. People don’t talk about that. He’s only 9-years-old,” McManus said.
In a statement a spokesperson for the City of Milwaukee says, “Mayor Tom Barrett has made and continues to make this issue a priority, as he works closely with local, state and federal agencies to identify ways to address lead service lines in Milwaukee. We will share our progress and provide up-to-date information with the public as it becomes available – the safety of our fellow residents is of the highest importance.”