Public online dashboard shows progress of City of Benton Harbor lead water line replacement work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 6, 2021

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - A dashboard updating progress on the replacement of lead drinking water service lines in the City of Benton Harbor is now available on the city's website for public viewing.

The dashboard, created by Abonmarche Consultants, Inc., is updated daily to chronicle the number of lead lines replaced, those remaining and a host of other information including:

  • The composition of service lines (lead, non-lead, galvanized, unknown).
  • The number of lines left to replace.
  • Dates and location of lead lines replaced.
  • Running monthly totals of lines replaced and those verified non-lead.
  • Updated percentages of service lines replaced and remaining to be replaced.

Abonmarche reports that 14 service lines have been replaced this fall, bringing the total number of service lines replaced to 382, with almost 4,000 remaining.

Bids are currently being accepted for additional contractors to accelerate the replacement of the lines. Next year, multiple contractors are expected to work simultaneously on the ambitious goal announced by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to replace all service lines in 18 months.

"There is a tremendous amount of forward momentum to getting these pipes out of the ground as a key part of removing the threat of lead from the city's drinking water," said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad. "This dashboard gives residents a window into the aggressive work being done throughout the city."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the replacement of all lead service lines in Benton Harbor in 18 months. She also signed an executive directive that implemented an all-hands-on-deck, whole-of-government approach to move forward with urgency in replacing lead service lines in the city, which has experienced exceedances of the standard for lead in water.

Service lines are the underground pipes that deliver water from the water main to a home. Each service line or connection may consist of multiple plumbing material types including lead, copper, galvanized iron and plastic. Replacement of lines means that both the public (water main to curb) and private (curb to home) portions of the lead and galvanized service lines along with connections are all replaced at no cost to the homeowner. 

To assist with ensuring the work can be completed as soon as possible, residents are encouraged to complete the Water Service Line Replacement Agreement available online. Contractors cannot begin work on any property without property owner authorization. Completed forms can be returned to Abonmarche, 95 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or emailed to bvasher@abonmarche.com.

Distribution of free bottled water continues by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local, paid residents. City of Benton Harbor are being encouraged to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula. This action is part of an accelerated, across-the-board effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water while the city replaces all lead service lines.

Community volunteers from the following organizations will be available to assist City of Benton Harbor residents pick up water at Benton Harbor High School, 870 Colfax Ave. as follows:

Tuesday, Dec. 7

  • Noon - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Ebenezer Baptist Church

Wednesday, Dec. 8

  • Noon - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Purpose Church Ministries
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Purpose Church Ministries

Thursday, Dec. 9

  • Noon - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Ebenezer Baptist Church
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Brotherhood of All Nations

Saturday, Dec. 11

  • Noon - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor
  • 2 - 4 p.m. - Volunteers from New Covenant Community Baptist Church
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Harbor of Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Sunday, Dec. 12

  • 2 - 4 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 pm - Volunteers from Brotherhood of All Nation

Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., will host self-serve water pickup as follows:

  • Wednesday, Dec. 8, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pickup will be added to make sure community needs are met. Information will be posted on Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe.

To arrange water delivery to homebound or residents without transportation in the city of Benton Harbor, contact 211, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The ongoing response in Benton Harbor includes the city, Berrien County Health Department, local community organizations, MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

MDHHS is engaging in a long-term effort to eliminate lead action level exceedances, educate communities on the effects of lead in drinking water, and remove lead service lines.

These efforts also include recently approved funds to remove lead from homes in the city. Families living in Benton Harbor can apply for this service by filling out and mailing in an application that is available online. Residents also can call 866-691-5323 to obtain information. 

For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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