BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A YMCA offered showers after a southwestern Michigan city, already struggling with lead in its water, lost most water service due to a pipe rupture.
“No water is a 911. It’s a major problem,” Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said.READ MORE: Where is Oxford, Michigan
Schools were closed Thursday, a day after the break occurred.
“The 89-year-old water main burst and is taking longer than expected to address,” Muhammad said on Twitter. “The contractors are still working on getting the water level down in order to repair the water main.”
In Lansing, Eric Oswald, head of Michigan’s drinking water division, told state lawmakers that the pipe could be repaired later Thursday.READ MORE: Mayor Duggan Urging Detroiters To Take Advantage Of Auto Insurance Amnesty By Dec. 31
It’s another blow for Benton Harbor, a predominantly Black, mostly low-income community of 9,700, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Chicago. Residents have been urged to use free bottled water for drinking and cooking due to elevated levels of lead, though bathing and washing clothes with tap water is OK.
Benton Harbor, like many communities, gets water from Lake Michigan, but the system moves water to homes through old lead pipes. The state and city hope to have the lines replaced in less than two years.
Lead is considered harmful at any level, and children are particularly vulnerable because it can slow growth and result in behavioral problems.
Meanwhile, a state House committee in Lansing was holding a hearing on Benton Harbor’s lead and the state’s response.MORE NEWS: Expect More Michigan Police On Roads Following Rise In Fatal Crashes
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