Sep 14, 2021

Gov. Whitmer Seeks $20 Million to Replace Lead Pipes in Benton Harbor, Michigan

This announcement came after news of Benton Harbor’s six straight lead exceedances.

drinking water

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to use $20 million in Benton Harbor, Michigan, to replace its lead pipes.

According to The Detroit News, Whitmer would like the pipes replaced in five years.

This announcement came after news of Benton Harbor’s six straight lead exceedances.

Whitmer’s plan through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy is part of a $200 million proposed expansion of a state Clean Water Plan to remove lead service lines across the state, reported The Detroit News. The governor wants to use federal COVID stimulus money from the American Rescue Plan to ensure safe drinking water.

Republican lawmakers and Whitmer's Democratic administration will continue negotiations about 2022’s budget before the fiscal year begins Oct. 1. 

“Every Michigander deserves access to safe drinking water and every community deserves lead-free pipes,” said Whitmer in a news release, reported The Detroit News. “We must make long overdue upgrades to our water infrastructure and build on the progress we have made under the MI Clean Water Plan to replace lead pipes, fix sewer systems and tackle PFAS in our water supply. I will work to get people the help they need right now and make lasting, structural investments in infrastructure to protect public health.”

Benton Harbor issued a public advisory in August after finding more than 10% of recent water samples from 78 homes exceeded the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) for lead, resulting in an average reading of 24 ppb, reported The Detroit News.

According to state officials, they plan to ensure that all families in Benton Harbor have access to free installation of in-home drinking water filters and lead awareness training during the water infrastructure upgrade work. Benton Harbor also reported a lead exceedance that violated Michigan’s Lead and Copper rule, reported The Detroit News.

Benton Harbor has approximately 6,000 water service lines, with most consisting of lead or unknown materials, according to state officials. 

The estimated cost of replacing Benton Harbor’s water service lines is $30 million. The existing $500 million Michigan Clean Water Plan sets aside $102 million specifically for lead service line replacement and EGLE will be awarding a $3 million allocation through the State Revolving Fund in October to Benton Harbor.

The state department earlier this year also supported Benton Harbor’s efforts to secure a $5.6 million federal grant to start replacing its lead pipes, reported The Detroit News.

Read related content about lead service line replacement:

expand_less