Benton Harbor residents now face fines if lead service lines not replaced

NOW: Benton Harbor residents now face fines if lead service lines not replaced

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — While work has been underway since November, with more than 400 lead water service lines replaced with much safer material, Benton Harbor needs every lead pipe out of the ground. 

On Monday night, the city commission approved imposing up to $500 in fines and 90 days in jail as a potential penalty, plus community service, for homeowners who do not allow crews to come in and do the free work.

“Some we’ve had issues with them not letting us in, there’s been one on this street but most are willing to let us get their water fixed,” said David Frizzell, supervisor at Meek’s Construction.  

Residents still need to submit an agreement form with city engineer Abonmarche before construction at their house can start.

That needs to be done within 180 days of their property being on the construction schedule. 

For example, Meek’s Construction – one of five contractors hired for pipe replacements – is working on homes on Buss Avenue this week.

That means if you live there and you haven’t filled out that form, the clock is ticking.  

“To the people who don’t feel comfortable with us coming in their house, I think it’s definitely for the better, you need it changed, you don’t want lead or galvanized pipes,” said Arnell Barney, laborer at Meek’s Construction.

Mayor Marcus Muhammad told ABC57 the city does not want to issue fines, but the new ordinance will help ensure all the work is done within the 18 month schedule.

Renters will also now be able to grant authorization to Abonmarche to begin construction, rather than relying on their property’s owner to give permission. 

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