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City of Benton Harbor qualifies for Faucet and Filter Safety Net Program under new statewide strategy for reducing lead in drinking water, ‘Get Ahead of Lead’
November 30, 2023
As city water continues to meet Safe Drinking Water Act standards, changes
underway to abatement services program, bottled water and recycling
LANSING, Mich. – With 100% of the lead service lines replaced and because the City of Benton Harbor has met or exceeded lead standards under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Michigan’s strictest-in-the-nation Lead & Copper Rule for two consecutive years, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is transitioning the City of Benton Harbor to its statewide Get Ahead of Lead strategy for reducing the threat of lead in drinking water.
“Michigan leads the nation in preventing lead exposure from drinking water,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “Because the City of Benton Harbor has made significant progress in reducing the threat of lead from drinking water and the city continues to meet all federal standards, we are transitioning the city to the statewide strategy for reducing lead in drinking water.”
Accomplishments in the City of Benton Harbor include:
- 100% of lead service lines are replaced.
- Lead standards under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and Michigan’s strictest-in-the-nation Lead & Copper Rule have been met for two consecutive years.
- More than 75% of single-family homes have received lead-reducing filters.
Under the new statewide strategy, MDHHS recommends residents identify sources of lead in their home plumbing, if any, and take actions to reduce exposure to lead. Public health activities to support households participating in this strategy include a statewide education campaign and a safety net program to ensure low-income families in communities with the highest risk of lead exposure can implement these recommendations.
MDHHS is providing safety net programs in communities with higher risk of lead exposure. The City of Benton Harbor qualifies for the Faucet and Filter Safety Net Program. Starting Friday, Dec. 8, homes where a Medicaid-enrolled child under 19 years of age or pregnant person reside are eligible for:
- A home visit with lead education and visual plumbing assessment.
- Free lead-reducing filter and replacement cartridges.
- Free replacement of one faucet if older than 2014.
- Assistance in signing up for the Medicaid Lead Abatement Program.
Eligible households can sign up for any of these services by completing the Faucet and Filter Safety Net Program application. Residents with questions can call 866-691-5323 to verify their eligibility. City of Benton Harbor households who have submitted a lead services application by Friday, Dec. 8, will receive free inspections and lead abatement services.
City of Benton Harbor households who are not eligible for the Faucet and Filter Safety Net Program may participate in the Lead Poisoning Prevention Fund low interest loan program or may be eligible for faucet replacement through the State Weatherization Assistance Program.
Additional resources for housing and emergency home repairs, housing rehabilitation and weatherization may be available through the following programs and organizations:
- State Emergency Relief Program
- Emergency Services Fund
- Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency
- Harbor Habitat for Humanity
- U.S. Veterans Affairs
City of Benton Harbor residents do not have to use a filter. However, families with older homes may have plumbing and water faucets that contain sources of lead. MDHHS is recommending residents take the necessary steps to identify if they have lead or galvanized plumbing or faucets and fittings that were sold before 2014. If that type of plumbing or those kinds of fixtures are identified, they can choose to use a lead-reducing filter to provide an added level of protection.
Eligible households can request a free filter in person, online or by phone.
- Pick up a filter or cartridge at:
- Berrien County Health, 2149 E. Napier Avenue, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- The Center for Better Health, 100 W Main Street, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Call the MDHHS Drinking Water Hotline at 844-934-1315.
Keep Your Water Moving
Following are tips that everyone can use to help maintain your home’s drinking water quality.
- Keep your water moving by doing everyday activities such as:
- Running a load of laundry.
- Washing dishes.
- Taking a shower.
- Flushing the toilet.
- Clean the aerators on your faucets at least once every six months to remove trapped lead and other particles.
- Run your water until it is cold before using it for drinking, cooking and making baby formula.
Changes to Bottled Water Distribution
Bottled water distribution will change to one day a week starting on Wednesday, Dec. 13. Water will continue to be available every Wednesday through Wednesday, Dec. 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street. More than 1.2 million cases of water have been distributed since September 2021.
Homebound delivery of bottled water will end on Wednesday, Dec. 27. The MDHHS will stop accepting new applications for homebound delivery of water on Friday, December 8. The MDHHS recommends that homebound residents request a filter by calling the MDHHS Drinking Water Hotline at 844-934-1315.
Recycling will continue through Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. The water bottle recycling trailer is located at 693 Columbus Avenue on the north side of Abundant Life Church.
Blood Lead Testing
Children less than 6 years old with an elevated blood lead level are offered nurse case management through the Berrien County Health Department, which includes a home visit with a registered nurse.
Blood lead testing for children is also being offered through the InterCare Community Health Network and appointments can be made by calling 855-869-6900 and the WIC program and the Berrien County Health Department by calling 800-815-5485 or visiting BCHDMI.org for more information.
For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 844-934-1315 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional information is available at Michigan.gov/GetAheadOfLead.
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