Officials hold press conference to discuss short and long term solutions for Berrien County lead service lines

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 7:11 PM EDT
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BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WNDU) - Under Michigan’s lead and copper rule, which is the strictest in the nation, every community is required to replace 5% of lead service lines each year.

However, lead exposure is never safe at any level, and officials are calling for 100% replacement in the next 18 months.

“Starting on Monday, more than 20 semi trucks, totaling 35,000 cases of water are scheduled for delivery to Benton Harbor every week until this is no longer necessary,” said Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.

Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist the second visited Benton Harbor today to announce the “all hands on deck,” approach the community and it’s officials are taking to solve the lead problem and ensure clean, safe water for all residents.

“We understand the disruption that this brings to your lives, and the anxiety it brings. No matter where a person lives. No matter their identity, their income. Everyone and I want to repeat that, everyone, deserves access to water that they can trust to drink themselves, and that they can trust to give to their families,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Director at Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The Michigan Department of Health and Humans Services is engaging in long term efforts to eliminate lead action levels, educate communities, and remove lead service lines.

“We say to the citizens of Benton Harbor, this is not the first time that we’ve faced adversity, probably won’t be the last time. But the thing about us is that we’re resilient. We never stop. We keep going, and we find a way to win. And so I stand today to assure you that you are not in this alone. That we will stand together and we will come out on top,” said Pastor Maurice McAfee, from New Bethel Baptist Church.

“When a community faces tough times, we have to show up for and with them , to fight for and with them, with everything that we have. Because we are all part of the same Michigan family,” said Lieutenant Governor.

Today water is being distributed at Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency’s warehouse, and tomorrow from God’s Household of Faith from 2-6 p.m..

Additional dates and locations will be added to make sure the community’s needs are met.

For more information you can dial 211 or contact the Berrien County Health Department.

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