BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (CBS Detroit) – Construction is underway Tuesday in Benton Harbor where the first lead service lines are being replaced.

According to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office, the estimated cost to replace 100% of the lead service lines in the city is $30 million, with $18.6 so far delivered by the state of Michigan.

State officials say from the $18.6 million given:

  • $10 million from the recently signed fiscal year 2022 budget
  • $3 million from the MI Clean Water plan
  • $5.6 million Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act grant from the Environmental Protection Agency
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Whitmer, who visited the construction site Tuesday, called on the Legislature to secure the remaining $11.4 million, utilizing the billions in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan.

“I am confident that we can meet our goal to replace 100% of lead service lines in Benton Harbor within 18 months and utilize the $1.3 billion headed our way from the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill specifically for water to protect safe drinking water in every community,” she said.

In October, 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.

“We need to get the lead out of Benton Harbor ASAP and this funding will replace approximately 100 lead service lines right now. My focus is on protecting the residents of this great city and I look forward to 100% of the lead lines being replaced on an aggressive timeline of 18 months to make sure families have access to safe drinking water,” Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said in a press release.

Meanwhile, the city and state will continue the free water distribution.

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Tuesday, Nov. 9

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

Wednesday, Nov. 10

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

Thursday, Nov. 11

  • Ebenezer Baptist Church, 214 E. Britain Avenue, 10 a.m. – noon.
  • Brotherhood of All Nations, 1286 Monroe Street, 4-6 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 12

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Self-service)

Saturday, Nov. 13

  • 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 Street, 4-6 p.m.

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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