BENTON HARBOR (CBS Detroit) – Michigan officials say excavation work on “an initial 100 suspected lead service lines” in Benton Harbor will begin next week.

According to a press release, residents can expect to see construction within the city as Meeks Contracting Services begin to replace lines funded by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant. Replacement of the lines means both public (water main to curb) and private (curb to home) portions of the service line along with connections are all replaced.

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The exact dates for work will be weather dependent, and the city is maintaining an online dashboard to keep residents up to date on the status of the project.

“The replacement of lead service lines and connections is imperative,” Liesl Clark, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), said in the press release. “EGLE very much appreciates the city’s leadership on the removal of all service lines, and we are committed to providing technical and financial support as we partner with the city to meet the 18-month goal established by Governor Whitmer.”

To assist with assuring the work can be completed as soon as possible, residents are encouraged to complete the Water Service Line Replacement Agreement available online. Contractors cannot begin work on any property without property owner authorization. Completed forms can be returned to Abonmarche, 95 West Main St. in Benton Harbor or emailed to bvasher@abonmarche.com.

Officials say Michigan, Benton Harbor and the city’s engineering firm, Abonmarche, is also working to secure additional contractors to conduct service line replacement.

Last month, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered a “whole-of-government” response to elevated levels of lead in Benton Harbor’s water and vowed to accelerate the replacement of the southwestern Michigan’ community’s lead pipes.

The city is a predominantly Black and mostly low-income community of 9,700, in Berrien County.

Meanwhile, distribution of free bottled water continues into next week.

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Saturday, Nov. 6

  • Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor, 600 Nate Wells Sr. Drive, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Harbor of Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 769 Pipestone St., 4–6 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 7

  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Ave., 3–5 p.m.
  • Brotherhood of All Nations, 1286 Monroe St., 4–6 p.m.

Monday, Nov. 8

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Self-service)
  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Ave., noon – 2 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 9

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Self-service)
  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Ave., noon – 2 p.m.
  • Ebenezer Baptist Church, 214 E. Britain Ave., 4 – 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Nov. 10

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, 3-6 p.m., (Water loaded into vehicles by volunteers)

To arrange water delivery to homebound or residents without transportation in the city of Benton Harbor, contact 211, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pick up will be added to make sure community needs are met. Information will be posted on Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe.

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