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Lead Service Line Replacement

A stack of grey metal pipes
Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Lead Service Line Replacement

Service lines are the underground pipes that deliver water from the water main to a home. They are made of various types of materials, including copper, galvanized iron, plastic, and lead.

Based on preliminary data submitted by water supplies in 2020, approximately 331,000 service lines across the state are known or likely to contain lead (that's roughly 12% of the total service lines in Michigan community water supplies). An additional approximately 314,000 service lines are of unknown material.

Replacement of lead service lines is imperative because lead can leach into drinking water while it sits in or moves through lead service lines (LSLs).

Michigan's Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) and Lead Service Lines

In 2018, LSLs played a central role when Michigan strengthened its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

Under the new rules, Michigan now requires community water supplies with lead service lines to sample both the 1st and the 5th liter out of the faucet when conducting required lead and copper monitoring. This change is designed to better represent the risk of lead in the water residents are consuming/using in Michigan communities by including water that was likely in the service line immediately prior to sampling.

Recognizing their significant role in drinking water lead exposure, Michigan's LCR also requires communities to replace an average of 5% of their total LSLs each year, meaning 100% replacement in 20 years. If a water supply has an action level exceedance (ALE) for lead after installing optimal corrosion control treatment-designed to reduce leaching of lead into the water-it must increase the replacement rate to 7% per year until the water supply's samples are below the ALE for two consecutive monitoring periods.

Moving Faster in Benton Harbor

While the LCR technically does not yet require Benton Harbor to remove 7% of its LSLs per year, EGLE pro-actively ordered the city to do so for the 12 months beginning July 1, 2021. And in response to the current situation, Governor Whitmer has called on the overall process to occur on a vastly expedited timeline of 100% replacement over the next 18 months (by March 2023). That's more than 10 times faster than Benton Harbor would be required by law to replace its LSLs.

Backing up that ambitious commitment, the Whitmer administration has supported Benton Harbor in securing more than $18 million for LSLs replacements (see funding and investments summary).

Benton Harbor launched its latest round of LSL replacements during the week of November 8, 2021. For more information on that process, Benton Harbor's lead service line replacement dashboard and information page provides a wealth of information.

City of Benton Harbor residents can help get this work completed as soon as possible by completing the Water Service Line Replacement Agreement. It provides contractors with the owner authorization required to work on a property. Completed forms can be emailed to or returned to:

95 West Main Street
Benton Harbor, MI 49022