By Sara Powers

With hopes of replacing all Benton Harbor’s lead-contaminated water pipes in 18 months, crews are working faster than expected.

Nearly 50% of homes in the city have had their lead-contaminated water lines replaced.

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“There is still a lot of work in front of us but I’m thrilled with the progress that has been happening, and let’s be clear, that work, is the city’s work, and the contractor’s work,” said Liesl Clark, EGLE Director.

By the end of the week, crews expect to have half the homes done.

“This is a project that we couldn’t have done alone by ourselves we would be sitting here talking about we have a water crisis you have a crisis when you don’t have the money and you don’t have the help from the agencies,” said Ellis Mitchell, Benton Harbor City Manager.

Congressman Fred Upton, the EPA, Great Lakes Energy, and local contractors, spoke on the large-scale project.

“Making sure that people, wherever they live, are going to have lead-free water, and this work obviously needed to be done,” said Congressman Fred Upton, (R) Michigan 6th District.

Scientists shared their recent findings on water filters.

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“The filters were certified to remove lead and performed as we expected them too,” said Candice Bauer, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scientist. “With five contracting crews working all at the same time in different parts of the town, they have completed replacing lead water pipes to one thousand two hundred and fifty homes.”

Many local contractors and workers have been hired to complete this project.

“We wanted to make sure that as much work as possible was able to be done by locals and so we’ve been really thrilled with the way that the contractors Took that work to heart and really made a commitment to playing that out,” said Clark.

Although crews are working quickly, officials say 18 months is still the expected timeline to completely replace water lines.

Another free program is available to the people of Benton Harbor.

The Department of Health and Human Services is offering lead testing, not just in your water, but within your home as well, including your soil, paint, and home fixtures.

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