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New water lines are installed at a home along Ogden Avenue in Benton Harbor on Nov. 8.

BENTON HARBOR — More than 20 percent of Benton Harbor’s lead service lines have been replaced so far, state officials reported Wednesday.

The Benton Harbor Lead Service Line Status Dashboard shows 304 service lines have been replaced in the last 30 days, with another 388 verified to be non-lead lines.

That means out of 4,368 services, 905 have either been replaced or verified as being non-lead, with another 3,463 to go, with the goal of replacing all lead service lines by April 2023.

“The fifth of six contractors, SWT Excavating, started work this week and the final contractor, LE Barber, is expected to start next week,” a news release stated.

Almost 1,890 “Right of Entry & Lead Service Line Replacement Agreements” have been turned in. However, work can’t be done unless this agreement is signed because much of the work is taking place on private property – at no cost to the homeowner.

The online form can be found at dtmb.state.mi.us/BentonHarbor.

Residents without internet access or who prefer to sign the form by a different method may obtain information from Sandy Riehl at sriehl@abonmarche.com or by calling 926-4557.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recently expanded its lead inspection services to all homes in the city regardless of the household’s income. This includes checking for lead not only in the homes drinking water, but in the paint and soil.

To apply, go to www.michigan.gov/mileadsafe. For more information, call 866-691-5323.

Ordinance status

In February, commissioners approved an ordinance making failure to replace the lines a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine, up to 90 days in jail and/or up to 250 hours of community service.

Commissioners later said residents shouldn’t face possible jail time.

City attorney Richard Racht said if the lead lines aren’t replaced, the city could be penalized by the state and federal government. He said the ordinance also allows tenants to sign the right of entry form. Otherwise, the form would have to be signed by the homeowners.

No action has been taken on removing the jail penalty.

Contact: lwrege@TheHP.com, 932-0361, Twitter: @HPWrege

Staff Writer at The Herald-Palladium