Experts address lead concerns in Benton Harbor at a town hall meeting

NOW: Experts address lead concerns in Benton Harbor at a town hall meeting

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. – City of Benton Harbor officials and health experts gathered Thursday evening for a town hall meeting about the safety of the city’s drinking water.  

“We want a solution to the problem. I have grandkids and I’d like to see them grow up healthy,” one Benton Harbor resident said. 

Benton Harbor’s City Manager Darwin Watson and the Berrien County Health Department held the town hall to give an update to the problem that they made the public aware of in October 2018 after issuing a water advisory.

“This is not just a Benton Harbor problem, it’s a problem that has permeated throughout the state of Michigan and across the nation,” Watson said.  

According to the city, they became aware of the elevated lead levels during routine testing in 2018, and issued an advisory. 

After the discovery a number of rounds of testing have taken place and approximately 50 exceeded the lead “action level” of 15 parts per billion. 

According to City Manager Darwin Watson the city used approximately $80,000 of a $300,000 grant to replace pipes which they believe to be the source of the contamination. 

The health department is recommending residents who suspect they are at risk to flush their pipes by running their water for 5 minutes before using it, or picking up a special “NSF53” water filter that will be made available by the city.  

City Manager Darwin Watson says the message he hopes the community gets is that they are working on the problem.

“What I would like to get out to them is the fact that we are working feverishly to make sure that we attenuate to the health, safety and welfare of the community, it’s gonna be a process that’s going to take time but we are asking that you walk with us in lock-step with the information that we give you and just trust us to get this done,” Watson said. 

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