Berrien County will hire supervisor to assist city with ongoing lead alleviation efforts
BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The Berrien County Health Department will be more at the forefront of Benton Harbor’s water crisis as they look to designate a team to the long-term response of its elevated lead levels.
“We have really one and a half full-time employees on this now, we’re hoping to grow that, we know the state will pull back resources in the future and would like to see more localized control,” said Guy Miller, MPH, Acting Health Officer.
While MDHHS and the EPA have officers stationed in Benton Harbor – the goal is for them to not be needed within 14 months.
April 2023 is the deadline to replace all of the city’s water service lines, but both agencies are looking to start easing more resources to local health officers.
This new position for the Berrien County Health Department allocates about $455,000 of state funds from its Emerging Threats Grant.
“The position would be an Emerging Health Threats Supervisor, they’d be supervising the money that we’re receiving from the grant, essentially this grant is being paid for by the state health department,” said Miller.
The Berrien County Health Department does not regulate water – so Michigan EGLE would still be in charge of checking for action level exceedance – or ALE’s –
but they have been distributing faucet filters for city residents since the first ALE in 2018, and would like to continue in anticipation of a potential shift from a bottled water recommendation before all line replacements are finished in 2023.
“The goal here is to have a supervisor to coordinate water filtration, distribution, keep track of lead line replacements and where filters are being distributed and communicating all of that information back to the city,” said Miller.