Benton Harbor lead pipe replacement underway

NOW: Benton Harbor lead pipe replacement underway

BENTON HARBOR, Mi.- Crews are hard at work in replacing the lead water lines to get clean water to residents in Benton Harbor.

According to an online dashboard, 679 lines have been replaced so far.

“Benton Harbor was a special situation because of the length of time those high lead levels existed. It’s been 3, 3 and half years now, and I think with that problem dragging on,” Hugh McDiarmid, the Communications Manager at Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes Energy said. “The decision was made to just really move forward and get this done as soon as possible in Benton Harbor, and that’s why you see the accelerated work.”

Roughly 3,700 lead service lines are expected to be replaced during this next year. ABC57 went around the city of Benton Harbor and saw crews working in neighborhoods replacing water lead pipelines in areas on the northeast, and southeast side of town and off on Main street.

The goal is to replace them all by spring 2023. That was ordered by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose administration provided just under $20 million to the city to speed up the timeline. In the last 30 days, contractors have been able to replace a total of 175 pipelines in Benton Harbor.

“It’s vital that the lead lines be taken out of the ground because that’s one of the primary or most likely, the primary culprit in the lead and the tap water that come out of faucets,” McDiarmid said.

The city continues to provide its residents with free bottled water until the project is complete.

In order for your pipelines to be replaced, make sure to fill out the Service Line Replacement Agreement form. It is a prerequisite to ensure contractors have access to private property.

“The property owners that haven’t provided yet, still need those to legally access the property. So they need to have those provided I believe the city council is working on some ordinances that would require property owners to allow access to the property,” McDiarmid said.

You can sign and find more information about the “Right of Access” Water Service Line Replacement Agreement form here.

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