MILWAUKEE – When Milwaukee native Tory Lowe found out about the lead service lines running through Milwaukee, he took a different approach to help spread the word that the water is unsafe to consume.
Along with producer Godzilla and rapper Eric “EP” Perkins, they formed The Midwest Connect and wrote a song titled “Don’t Drink the Water.”
The song describes the problem: “Poison coming through the sink, but it seems like nobody cares. Thousands of kids jacked for life cuz they don’t want to stop and fix the pipes.”
The lead lines are especially prevalent in the south side and the north side of Milwaukee, a predominantly African American part of the city, according to a list on Milwaukee’s water department website.
Lowe does advocacy work to help those in need. He uses his Facebook page, where he has amassed more than 30,000 followers, to spread awareness when a kidnapping or murder happens. He also goes live on Facebook during protests or community events, such as the start of a summer basketball league.
Milwaukee has about 70,000 lead service lines that lead to homes, and the city began an initiative to spend $3.4 million to replace lines that serve schools and daycare centers in 2017.
But when it come to the lines that service homes, the city will only replace pipes if they leak or they present some sort of emergency, said Robert Miranda, a representative for the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition.
Going forward, the city plans to spend another $3.4 million to replace 300 lines to service homes. Based on the current replacement plan, it will take more than 233 years to transition the city’s lead pipes to copper.
Lowe and The Midwest Connect said they chose to spread the word about the lead pipes through music because it was the best way to reach a wider audience. The community has embraced the song by liking the group’s Facebook page and sharing the song.