Benton Harbor Drinking Water
EPA is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to clean drinking water and continues to support the Benton Harbor public water system and Michigan’s state agencies to ensure that Safe Drinking Water Act standards are met for the Benton Harbor community.
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On June 8, 2023, EPA terminated the Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) it issued to the City of Benton Harbor on November 2, 2021. Benton Harbor has demonstrated to EPA that all terms of the order have been satisfactorily completed. In addition, 100% of the lead service lines in the city have been replaced, and the water system has not experienced a lead action level exceedance in any of its three most recent Lead and Copper Rule compliance monitoring periods. EPA will continue to oversee compliance of public water systems in Michigan, including monitoring state and local efforts to improve the situation in Benton Harbor and assessing the need for additional actions, through routine coordination with the state.
EPA coordinated three studies along with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Berrien County Health Department, the City of Benton Harbor, and Lake Michigan College.
- A filter study focused on evaluating faucet and pitcher filters to make sure they were reducing lead as expected. The study determined that filters, when properly installed and used, remove lead from drinking water as expected.
- A sequential study was conducted to determine the sources of lead within the plumbing, from the tap, throughout the home, to the service line.
- A particle study was conducted to determine the size and type of small particles in drinking water. The analysis showed that when lead was found, it was generally detected in larger clumps of particles, which are more easily removed by filters.
EPA completed its final analysis of all data collected during the three concurrent Benton Harbor Drinking Water Studies. These additional analyses help to further explain the composition of the plumbing materials and how lead was being released into the drinking water during the study time period, along with certified drinking water filter performance and the presence of particulate lead. The EPA Office of Research and Development published the final Benton Harbor Drinking Water Study Report on April 14, 2023. (March 2022, 803.14 KB)
The Properly Used Filters Protect Benton Harbor Residents from Lead in Drinking Water (Fact Sheet) (pdf) describes best practices for using certified lead-reducing filters and highlights the results of EPA’s Filter Study that was conducted in Benton Harbor.
Additional information related to Drinking Water Studies:
Data Report: Summary of Lead Water results in Filter and Sequential Studies (pdf)
EPA's Final Lead Results (xlsx) EPA's Final Lead Results (xlsx) (25.11 KB)
On February 16, EPA responded to the September 9, 2021, Petition for Emergency Action under the Safe Drinking Water Act (pdf) requesting that EPA investigate and address elevated lead levels in Benton Harbor, Michigan’s drinking water. On June 8, 2023, EPA sent an additional letter to petitioners concluding the Agency’s response to the petition.
- Petition for Emergency Action under the Safe Drinking Water Act (pdf)
- EPA Letters to Liesl Eichler Clark, Director, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, and Elizabeth Hertel, Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (pdf)
- Response to EPA from EGLE and DHHS with Attachments (pdf)
- Drinking Water Sampling Protocols for Benton Harbor Water Study (pdf)
- EPA Letter to EGLE Re: Feedback on the Cornwell Engineering Benton Harbor Corrosion Test Plan (pdf)
- Benton Harbor Public Water System Inspection Report (pdf)
- Transmittal letter from EPA (pdf)
- Region 5 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division SDWA Drinking Water Inspection Report (pdf)
- Unilateral Order, Benton Harbor (pdf)
- UAO Transmittal Letter (pdf)
- Referral of Benton Harbor Drinking Water Compliance Issues for Enforcement (pdf)
- Safe Drinking Water Inspection Report, City of Benton Harbor, Michigan (pdf)
- Inspection Report Transmittal Letter (pdf)