Dec. 16 resource fair announced to provide resources and assist Benton Harbor residents in reducing lead exposure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 7, 2021

CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - City of Benton Harbor residents can attend a second resource fair to learn about the health impacts of lead and resources available to help reduce or eliminate lead from their homes on Thursday, Dec. 16, from 4-7 p.m. at Benton Harbor High School.

The City of Benton Harbor Water Resource Fair is a collaborative effort that will include information and representatives from local community organizations, the City of Benton Harbor, Berrien County Health Department, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The event is being held at the high school, 870 Colfax Ave. Attendees are asked to wear masks and masks will be available at the event.

"Based on the success of the first Resource Fair, we want to provide another opportunity for residents to ask questions about the health effects of lead, how to get tested for lead and steps they can take to reduce or eliminate lead exposure in their homes and lives," said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. "Information about services available to remove lead from homes, food assistance and other resources also will be available."

Available resources will include health services, food assistance, water use instruction, nutrition options and information on lead. Free bottled water also will be available at the event.

"City of Benton Harbor residents understandably have many questions about lead," said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad. "This is a great opportunity for our community to get answers and find out what resources are available to Benton Harbor families from the local, state and federal governments."

Distribution of free bottled water continues by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local, paid residents. City of Benton Harbor residents 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 are available to assist City of Benton Harbor residents pick up water at Benton Harbor High School, 870 Colfax Ave., as follows:

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

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

Monday, Dec. 13

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

Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, 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.
  • Monday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pick up 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.

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

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. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the replacement of lead service lines in Benton Harbor in 18 months and the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration has provided just under $20 million to Benton Harbor to speed up their service line replacement timeline.  

There is no cost to City of Benton Harbor residents for lead service line replacement. To assist with assuring 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 W. Main St., Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or emailed to bvasher@abonmarche.com.

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.

# # #