Benton Harbor mostly without water after water main bursts

Michigan

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The majority of homes in Benton Harbor were left without water after a water main broke Wednesday.

The water main broke around 4 p.m., the Berrien County Health Department said in a release. The break led to a loss of water pressure across the city’s entire system, it said.

Officials believed water will be restored within a day.

Once the water pressure is back, residents should run water taps for five minutes before using it for things like washing hands, officials say.

Multiple Benton Harbor Area Schools will be closed Thursday because of the break, Superintendent Andraé Townsel said in a tweet. The Discovery Enrichment Center, Martin Luther King Jr., Fair Plain East Elementary, Fair Plain Middle School, Benton Harbor High School and the Career and Alternative Pathways in Education Center will all be closed, he said.

The burst comes after the Benton Harbor City Commission declared a local state of emergency Monday in response to the discovery of high levels of lead contamination in the water.

Data from the city shows the highest lead reading from sampled homes found 889 parts per billion, more than 59 times the state limit.

State health officials have urged residents to not cook or drink with tap water, instead relying on bottled water.

The county health department says residents can pick up free bottled water Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency, located at 331 Miller Street, and at Benton Harbor High School, located at 870 Colfax Avenue. There will also be water trucks for residents to use to fill up their own containers for things like washing and flushing toilets.

The state is aiming to replace every lead pipe in the city in the next 18 months.

The mayor and city manager are expected to testify at a Michigan House Oversight Committee hearing in Lansing Thursday about the ongoing water crisis.

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