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Service line replacement work begins next week in City of Benton Harbor Water distribution continues for city residents; over 127,000 cases provided to date


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - As part of an accelerated, across-the-board effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water in the City of Benton Harbor, excavation work on an initial 100 suspected lead service lines will begin next week as part of a plan to replace all the city's lead service lines.

Last month, 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. Governor Whitmer also signed an executive directive that implemented an all-hands-on-deck, whole-of-government approach to move forward with urgency and ensure that every parent can give their kid a glass of water with confidence.  

"We need to get the lead out of Benton Harbor ASAP," said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad. "My focus is on protecting the residents of my city and removing old lead service lines on an aggressive timeline of 18 months is critical."

Next week, residents can expect to see construction efforts within the city as Meeks Contracting Services begins to replace lines funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant.

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 service line along with connections are all replaced. 

"The replacement of lead service lines and connections is imperative," said Liesl Clark, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy director. "EGLE very much appreciates the city's leadership on the removal of all service lines, and we are committed to providing technical and financial support as we partner with the city to meet the 18-month goal established by Governor Whitmer."

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 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or emailed to

The state, city and the city's engineering firm, Abonmarche, are also working quickly to secure additional contractors to conduct service line replacement with the goal of having multiple contractors working throughout the city at the same time. While exact dates for work to occur will be weather dependent, the city is maintaining an online dashboard to keep residents up to date on the status of the project. 

Distribution of free bottled water continues with MDHHS and volunteers providing127,816 cases at community distribution sites and through deliveries to residents who are homebound or lack access to transportation. Free bottled water is being provided by the state as 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.

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 upcoming schedule for bottled water pickup is:

Saturday, Nov. 6

  • Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor, 600 Nate Wells Sr. Drive, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Harbor of Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 769 Pipestone Street, 4 - 6 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 7

  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Avenue, 3 - 5 p.m.
  • Brotherhood of All Nations, 1286 Monroe Street, 4 - 6 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 8

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Self-service)
  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Avenue, noon - 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. (Self-service)
  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Avenue, noon - 2 p.m.
  • Ebenezer Baptist Church, 214 E. Britain Avenue, 4 - 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 10

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, 3 - 6 p.m., (Water loaded into vehicles by volunteers)

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.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pick up will be added to make sure community needs are met. Information will be posted on

To ensure the continued success of bottled water distribution locations in Benton Harbor and to recognize the city residents who have been stepping up to donate their time and talent, the State of Michigan has partnered with local agencies and will begin paying city residents who work at state-supported bottled water distribution sites. Individuals who want to serve as community ambassadors to help distribute water should connect with an established distribution site. Individuals or groups who want to serve as unpaid volunteers can sign up on the United Way's online platform.

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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