ANSING, Mich. (AP) — A panel of experts is being assembled to advise Michigan officials on how to reduce lead in drinking water.

The creation of the seven-member panel was announced Friday by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

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Academic and water system engineering experts will be selected for the panel which will meet on a regular schedule and be available as a resource on an as-needed basis, EGLE said.

The state is pushing efforts to reduce lead exposures caused by aging water distribution infrastructure in several communities with the goal of removing lead contamination from drinking water statewide.

The agency said its Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division regulates 2,685 public drinking water systems under the state’s Lead and Copper Rule.

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Last month, the state said it would provide bottled water and water filters in Benton Harbor, where tests have revealed elevated levels of lead.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called for spending $20 million in Benton Harbor to replace nearly 6,000 service lines, most suspected of containing lead, within five years.

Benton Harbor is in the southwestern corner of Michigan, roughly 200 miles from Flint, where lead flowed through old pipes in 2014-15 because water pulled from a river wasn’t properly treated to reduce corrosion.

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