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E.P.A awards $5.6 million grant to Benton Harbor to replace lead service lines

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 7:32 PM EDT
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BENTON HARBOR, Mich (WNDU) -U.S. E.P.A. Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Congressman from Michigan Fred Upton joined local leaders in Benton Harbor to announce $5.6 million in funding to replace lead service lines.

16 News Now tells us why Benton Harbor is one of just a handful of communities to earn these dollars.

Grand Rapids also got a little over $5 million for the same purpose.

This grant is being given to communities that need to replace lead service lines, but don’t necessarily have the money for it.

Benton Harbor discovered there was a problem with high lead levels in tap water in 2018.

That was around the same time the state of Michigan issued an unfunded mandate for municipalities to replace lead service lines starting in 2021.

Just months away from that deadline, Benton Harbor has a way to pay for a solution.

“Abbot Marsh, our city engineer, has already identified areas. We’re currently doing $15 million in infrastructure right now so we already have the plans. The issue was the dinero,” said Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad.

The grant also provides funding to study ways to minimize corrosion where lead pipes still need replacement.

Upton says this program is close to his heart after seeing how lead levels in Flint’s water created a crisis.

“Whenever an official of the federal government is aware of a situation with lead like this they can’t sit on it. They have to immediately work with the governor and work with the community to develop a plan to address it,” Upton said.

Benton Harbor issued some ways you can ensure you have safe tap water first by flushing your pipes before getting tap water, using the shower, and even using the garden hose.

You can also use a lead reducing filter to clean your water before use.

It’s also important to replace your faucet aerators or that mesh screen at the end of your faucet.

You can also replace older pipes that could contain lead.

With the E.P.A. announcing the grant Friday, Benton Harbor can already start making those pipe replacements, ahead of the 2021 mandated start.

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