(10-26-21) Benton Harbor, Michigan, announced a state of emergency this week in a bid to ensure that lead pipes contaminating the city’s water supply are replaced more quickly.

The City Commission voted on Monday to enact the state of emergency.

Mayor Marcus Muhammad said he will be the presiding officer dealing with the emergency — in coordination with state and local leaders. When asked how much it will take to fix and replace all of the city’s lead-filled water pipes, Muhammad says nearly $30 million.

The State of Michigan and local officials have made additional free bottled water available to Benton Harbor residents in response to a water main break in the city last Tuesday afternoon.

The water main break occurred amid the state’s accelerated, across-the-board effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in Benton Harbor drinking water while the city replaces all lead service lines.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Elizabeth Hertel

“We understand that Benton Harbor residents are going through very stressful times – and I want them to know that the state is fully committed to making sure that families have access to clean water. The State of Michigan will be there for Benton Harbor residents while the expedited 18-month-process of replacing lead sewer service lines is completed.”

The water main break caused residents across the city to lose water pressure. The state estimates it will cost approximately $30 million to replace all the lead pipes in Benton Harbor