BENTON TOWNSHIP — Benton Township’s water complies with federal and state drinking water rules, according to routine testing.
The township completed its testing during the compliance period of June 1 through Sept. 30 and recently got the results back.
Out of 26 sites tested, 11 showed no detectable levels of lead. Thirteen of those sites tested below 10 parts per billion (ppb), and one site tested at 12 ppb for lead. Only one site tested above the action level of 15 ppb, and its lead service line was replaced two weeks ago, said Mike Baldwin, water distribution supervisor.
The township performs this routine compliance testing on at least 20 sites every three years, said Kyle Tryan, water plant superintendent. They prioritized testing sites with lead service lines or suspected of having lead service lines.
The township has not yet received its official 90th percentile calculation from the state, which the report states will be around 9 or 10 ppb. Benton Harbor’s 90th percentile calculation was 22 ppb.
Because of residential concern, township officials have tested about a dozen homes since Sept. 30. All were below the action level, and most were non-detect for lead.
“I’m drinking that same water myself and cooking with it,” Supervisor Cathy Yates said.
Baldwin said this is largely because Benton Township is younger than Benton Harbor, and as a result, has newer infrastructure.
The township has replaced eight lead lines, but has 17 remaining lead service lines it needs to replace by 2025. Baldwin said they’re investigating to see if there are more, but have yet to find any.
As part of this investigation, township residents received a mailer, asking them to identify if any of their lines were lead.
“This is a proactive step we took to help us find any lead in our system and update our records with it,” the report stated.
Calls and concerns
Despite Benton Township and Benton Harbor being two separate municipalities with two distinct water systems, Yates said residents have expressed concerns about the drinking water.
Yates said Benton Harbor city officials have also wrongly claimed the township has the same lead problems as the city.
She said she’s received dozens of calls from residents worried about the township’s water since Benton Harbor’s water crisis began receiving national attention.
Even well-meaning donors have confused the municipalities.
Yates said she’s gotten calls from people out of state wanting to donate money and from a semi-truck driver, asking if he should bring in additional cases of water bottles.
Tryan said Brita Water Filters called him, asking to donate filters. Whenever township officials get these calls, they said they’ve referred the interested parties to Benton Harbor City Manager Ellis Mitchell.
“We’ve got two different water systems, and it’s the city that needs the help,” Yates said.