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Water bottle recycling offered at Benton Harbor High School for City of Benton Harbor residents receiving free, bottled water

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 8, 2021 CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. - An option to recycle the free, plastic water bottles being provided to City of Benton Harbor residents is now being provided at the State of Michigan's water distribution site at the Benton Harbor High School.

Residents are being encouraged to take home 33-gallon, clear plastic bags to return empty water bottles at the high school during water distribution hours. Caps may be left on the bottles and bottles can be crushed, but do not need to be, to be recycled. Only water bottles can be recycled at this site.

"We're pleased to offer this recycling option to Benton Harbor families while we work with the community to provide safe drinking water," said Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) director. "Recycling gives new life to materials that would otherwise fill up landfills. It also sustains good Michigan jobs in industries that support the recovery of recyclable plastic and the manufacture of new goods from old water bottles."

Plastic bags for recycling will also be provided and empty water bottles will be collected during State of Michigan homebound deliveries.

Distribution of free bottled water continues as residents are being encouraged to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, brushing teeth, rinsing foods and mixing powdered infant formula. This action is part of an accelerated, across-the-board effort to reduce the risk of exposure to lead in drinking water while the city replaces all lead service lines.

Community volunteers from the following organizations available to assist City of Benton Harbor residents pick up water at Benton Harbor High School, 870 Colfax Avenue as follows:

Thursday, Dec. 9

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Ebenezer Baptist Church
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Brotherhood of All Nations

Saturday, Dec. 11

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor
  • 2 - 4 p.m. - Volunteers from New Covenant Community Baptist Church
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Harbor of Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church

Sunday, Dec. 12

  • 2 - 4 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 pm - Volunteers from Brotherhood of All Nations

Monday, Dec. 13

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from New Covenant Community Baptist Church

Tuesday, Dec. 14

  • 12 - 2 p.m. - Volunteers from Abundant Life C.O.G.I.C.
  • 4 - 6 p.m. - Volunteers from Ebenezer Baptist Church

Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller Street, will host self-serve water pickup as follows:

  • Thursday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Friday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 15, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

Additional dates and locations for bottled water pick up will be added to make sure community needs are met. Information will be posted on Michigan.gov/MiLeadSafe.

To arrange water delivery to homebound or residents without transportation in the city of Benton Harbor, contact 211, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The upcoming schedule for bottled water pickup is:

The ongoing response in Benton Harbor includes the city, Berrien County Health Department, local community organizations, MDHHS and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

MDHHS is engaging in a long-term effort to eliminate lead action level exceedances, educate communities on the effects of lead in drinking water, and remove lead service lines. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for the replacement of lead service lines in Benton Harbor in 18 months and the Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration has provided just under $20 million to Benton Harbor to speed up their service line replacement timeline.  

There is no cost to City of Benton Harbor residents for lead service line replacement. To assist with assuring the work can be completed as soon as possible, residents are encouraged to complete the Water Service Line Replacement Agreement available online. Contractors cannot begin work on any property without property owner authorization. Completed forms can be returned to Abonmarche, 95 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 or emailed to bvasher@abonmarche.com.

These efforts also include recently approved funds to remove lead from homes in the city. Families living in Benton Harbor can apply for this service by filling out and mailing in an application that is available online. Residents also can call 866-691-5323 to obtain information. 

For questions about lead, MDHHS can be reached at 866-691-5323 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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