Water bottle distributions continue in Benton Harbor
BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Benton Harbor residents need to continue cooking with and drinking bottled water.
In five days, 100,000 bottles of water have been passed out and the city is going to receive 30,000 each week.
This has been an ongoing issue, despite the water coming out of their plant being clean and efforts to reduce corrosion, old water lines continue to show lead in residents’ water.
“108 homes have been tested, 89 tested below the federal guidelines, however 19 tested above – and of course one is too many – so that’s where the abundance of caution comes in until we can test all homes because we know there are approximately 6,000 lead lines still in the ground,” said Mayor Marcus Muhammad.
40 lines have been replaced with copper or brass so far and work on 100 more will start in November.
“People have to remember we just came out of state receivership in 2017, to be notified in February 2018 that we needed to sign the Administrative Consent Order with Michigan EGLE and this is when this all took off,” said Mayor Muhammad.
Benton Harbor has received millions in state and federal funding to fix this – 10 million in October alone.
Mayor Muhammad even traveled to Flint to meet with their mayor, and while it’s expected to take around five years to replace all the lines, Muhammad believes the city has gotten ahead of it.
“Many people have tried to compare Flint to Benton Harbor and I think it’s a disservice to what happened in Flint where you had a criminal situation, where in Benton Harbor it’s more financial,” he said. “You can identify the problem but without the resources you can’t fix it.”
The next water distribution is Tuesday from 11 to 1 at Abundant Life Church of God.
Residents can also get free cases delivered 24/7 by calling 211.