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Berrien County Offering Water Filters To Benton Harbor Residents

Jennifer Weingart
WVPE Public Radio


The Berrien County Health Department is beginning a campaign this week to hand out water filters to the residents of Benton Harbor. That’s after high lead levels were found in the city’s drinking water.

Some water in the city tested above action levels for lead last fall. Since that time city officials found the problem to be with the aging lead service lines that many Benton Harbor homes have.

The homes that tested highest for lead have had those service lines replaced, and the city is working towards replacing all lead services lines, but Berrien County Health Department Director Nicki Britten said that’s a long term solution.

“Out of an abundance of caution and to protect people’s health, this is where the water filters come in. So that’s something, used on a short term basis, can ensure that resident can reduce their exposure to potential lead in the water.”

As a midterm solution, water treatment officials are working to add anti-corrosion agents to the water that will create a coating inside lead service lines to keep the lead from leaching into the water. That takes a year and a half to two years to be fully implemented.

Britten said despite higher lead levels in the water, fewer children are testing with high blood lead levels.

The water filters will be handed out at various events across the city over the next few weeks.