Feb 28, 2023
With 99.5% of lead service lines replaced in the City of Benton Harbor, the state is continuing its all hands on deck attempt to make safe drinking water available to residents in the City of Benton Harbor.
This includes free home lead inspection and abatement services, to help families ensure there are not additional sources of lead in their homes from paint or plumbing.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has created a Drinking Water Road Map to illustrate the steps city of Benton Harbor families should take after their lead service lines are replaced to eliminate sources of lead in their homes. Steps include:
• Using lead-reducing filters or bottled water until MDHHS has cleared the home’s plumbing for use.
• Scheduling a free home lead inspection and abatement services to ensure there are no additional sources of lead in the home.
• Getting the home’s plumbing fixed, removed or replaced for free if any sources of lead are found in your home’s plumbing.
• Getting water tested by MDHHS, to confirm that any sources of lead in the home’s plumbing have been fixed, removed or replaced.
• Flushing plumbing and cleaning aerators in the home.
Home Lead Services
Home lead services are available for all housing units, rental or owner occupied, on the Benton Harbor water supply, regardless of the age of the home, with no household income requirements. Services are available to single and multi-family residences. Owners of rental properties will be required to participate in cost sharing for services.
In-home-lead investigation services can include environmental investigations to identify lead in paint, dust, soil and drinking water hazards. Sequential water sampling to identify lead in drinking water and testing of non-household components (toys, dishes, furniture, etc.) with potential to contain lead, will also be offered.
Lead abatement services can include full abatement services for lead in paint, dust, soil and drinking water hazards. Pre-2014 bathroom and kitchen faucets used for potable water will be replaced regardless of water sampling results.
Applications are available online at https://www.michigan.gov/mileadsafe. Residents also can call 866-691-5323 to obtain information.
Keep Your Water Moving
Keep your water moving every day by running it several seconds to bring new water into your home’s pipes before using it for drinking, cooking and making baby formula. Families can keep their water moving by doing every day activities, such as:
• Running your water until it is cold.
• Taking a shower.
• Running a load of laundry.
• Running your dishwasher.
Cleaning Your Aerator
The screens on the ends of faucets are called aerators. Aerators help keep pieces of lead and other particles from getting into your water. During construction or repairs to the public water system or service lines near your home, the recommendation is to clean drinking water faucet aerators at least every month or more until the work is done.
In general, it is recommended that residents clean their drinking water faucet aerator at least every six months. Step-by-step guidance is provided in the Cleaning Your Aerators flyer.
Use Lead Reducing Filters & Bottled Water
Lead reducing filters and bottled water will continue being provided to City of Benton Harbor residents even as lead service line replacement work nears completion nearly five months ahead of schedule.
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study confirms that certified filters, properly installed and maintained, are effective in reducing lead in Benton Harbor drinking water.
The Berrien County Health Department (BCHD) is providing free lead-reducing filters. Residents can receive a free filter by picking one up at BCHD at 2149 E. Napier Ave., Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Filters can also be mailed to residents who call the drinking water hotline at 844-934-1315 or fill out an online form.
It’s important that Benton Harbor families continue to use filters or bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula, until they have their free home lead inspection.
Bottled water delivery will continue for those who are homebound, or without transportation, in the City of Benton Harbor. To arrange water delivery, contact 211, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Phones that cannot contact 211 should call 844-875-9211.
Bottled Water Update
Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St. , is hosting water pickup on the following dates:
• Thursday, March 2, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Friday, March 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Monday, March 6, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Wednesday, March 9, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• March 10, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Friday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The water bottle recycling trailer is now located at 693 Columbus Avenue on the north side of Abundant Life Church.
For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.