By Sara Powers

(CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that more than 20,000 pounds of empty water bottles have been recycled through a program offered while water is distributed.

Volunteers distribute bottled water to residents at the Abundant Life Church of God in Benton Harbor, Michigan, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered a whole-of-government response to elevated levels of lead in tap water in the southwestern Michigan city of Benton Harbor and vowed to accelerate the replacement of its lead pipes, reported the Associated Press. Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Officials say more than 16 million water bottles have been distributed to Benton Harbor residents since September 2021.

Nine trailers filled with empty water bottles have been processed, and according to officials a tenth trailer is currently accepting empty water bottles.

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Free water bottles have been given to residents to use for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula, as the lead service lines are being replaced.

Officials say the water bottle recycling trailer is now in Housing Commission parking lot, located at 721 Nate Wells Sr. Drive.

Residents are being encouraged to take home 33-gallon, clear plastic bags from the bottle distribution site to fill up with their empty plastic water bottles to return.

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