Benton Harbor to Replace Almost 100 Lead Pipes by May 2022 | Port of Benton
BENTON HARBOR – Plans are underway to replace at least some of the lead water pipes in Benton Harbor.
Jason Marquardt, senior project engineer at Abonmarche, said the city received offers on September 8 to replace nearly 100 lead service lines by the end of May 2022. Abonmarche operates as an engineering company. the city.
“We are in the process of awarding the contract to the contractor and we are preparing to launch this program from the end of October to November,” he said.
Houses whose lead service lines should be at least partially replaced can be found on the city’s website at www.bhcity.us/water.
This is the first series of homes to have their lead supply lines replaced, thanks to a $ 5.5 million grant the city received from the US Environmental Protection Agency in October. 2020. He stated the estimated cost of this first batch of houses, which are scattered all over the place. the city, is $ 563,000.
The EPA grant is expected to help the city replace approximately 888 lead service lines over the next four years.
The problem, Marquardt said, is that the city’s water distribution system is over 100 years old, with many homes built before the 1960s.
The water that comes out of the city’s water plant does not contain lead, he said. Nor the pipes that supply water to the property lines of the houses.
However, many water lines from the property line to the house are lead or contain lead components, he said.
Traditionally, homeowners were responsible for water lines from their property line. But changes in state law now require municipalities to replace lead service lines at no cost to the homeowner up to the first shutoff valve inside the home or 18 inches at the home. inside the house, whichever is shorter.
Meanwhile, Marquardt said the city was using $ 140,000 from a state grant to “poke a hole” in the connection between the city and 350 homes to see if they need to be replaced.
“This requires the contractor to physically dig up the closure and check the materials on both the public side and the private side,” he said.
He said work began in 2019 and will continue until all of the city’s 3,030 active water accounts have been checked and replaced if necessary.
Until recently, Marquardt said the city was hampered by a lack of funding to replace lead service lines.
But more help is on the way.
In September, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the 2022 state fiscal budget, which includes $ 10 million to replace lead service lines in the city. And the city is expected to receive an additional $ 10 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“There is likely another set of offerings that will have between 250 and 300 service replacements, likely by the end of the year for a contractor to start replacing more in 2022,” Marquardt said.
State law allows municipalities to replace lead service lines over 20 years, but calls to replace them faster are growing, especially as a group of 20 organizations have filed a petition to the EPA in September, saying residents need clean drinking water now.
State health officials on Wednesday urged residents of Benton Harbor to use bottled water for cooking and drinking in a joint press release with the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and the Michigan Energy.
Benton Harbor has been the subject of a state lead advisory since October 2018, when routine summer sampling revealed higher than acceptable levels of lead in some city tap water.
Since then, the city has been required to test a sample of homes every six months.