BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Benton Harbor has selected five companies to replace the lead water services lines in the city.

In September 2021, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the replacement of the lead service lines in 18 months and the administration has provided just under $20 million to Benton Harbor to speed up the replacement timeline.

Now that the companies have been selected, the city said it will be working with them over the next couple of weeks to finalize contracts and determine start dates for each of the 12 work zones.

The five companies that were selected include:

  • Hoffman Brothers of Battle Creek
  • SWT Excavating, Inc. of Galesburg
  • Selge Construction Co., Inc. of Niles
  • B and Z Company, Inc. of Benton Harbor
  • Five Star Energy Services, LLC of Big Bend, Wisconsin

The work is expected to fully begin in March, and the goal is to have the estimated 3,900 remaining lead services lines replaced by spring 2023. To date, over 400 lead service lines have been replaced. Updates on the lead line replacement and additional information is available on the city’s Status Dashboard.

The city said that contractors will be looking for local workers to hire and residents may contact the city if they are interested.

“Correcting decades of infrastructure neglect over the course of months is a challenge that this coalition of local, county, state, federal, private, faith and other non-governmental organizations is poised to meet,” Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said in a press release.

Lead service lines are a significant source of lead contamination introduced to the drinking water in Benton Harbor. The city said the lines connect city water mains, which typically run underneath the streets, to individuals homes an businesses.

The replacements will be performed at no cost to the homeowners, but contractors cannot begin work on a property without authorization from the property owner. The city said that contractors must have a signed “right of entry” for to access private yards to complete the work. Information on how to obtain and submit forms is available here.

Free bottled water is being provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human services and is being distributed in Benton Harbor. Residents are encouraged to use the bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing food and mixing powdered infant formula.

For information on water bottle pickup or to arrange for delivery, click here.