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Whitmer visits Benton Harbor construction site where first lead service lines are being replaced

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer visited a construction site in Benton Harbor on Tuesday, Nov. 9, where the city's first lead service lines are being replaced.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was in Benton Harbor Tuesday to visit the construction site where the city’s first lead service lines are being replaced.

That’s after the governor signed a directive last month to replace all lead service lines in the city over the next 18 months. Federal and state regulators also ordered the city to fix its water system earlier this week.

The project is expected to cost $30 million, almost $19 million of which has been secured. Whitmer once again called on the Michigan Legislature to fund the remaining $11 million with the state’s American Rescue Plan dollars.

“Boots on the ground, dirt in the air and money being put to work,” Benton Harbor Mayor Marcus Muhammad said in a release. “We need to get the lead out of Benton Harbor ASAP and this funding will replace approximately 100 lead service lines right now. My focus is on protecting the residents of this great city and I look forward to 100% of the lead lines being replaced on an aggressive timeline of 18 months to make sure families have access to safe drinking water.”

While she was in town, Whitmer also attended a weekly community meeting and “listened to local leaders and residents.”

“I am proud of the progress we are making, and I look forward to much more,” Whitmer said in a release. “I am confident that we can meet our goal to replace 100% of lead service lines in Benton Harbor within 18 months and utilize the $1.3 billion headed our way from the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill specifically for water to protect safe drinking water in every community.”

The state has been distributing bottled water, water filters and lead testing kits to Benton Harbor residents since the end of September.