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Crews repair Benton Harbor water line break, begin to refill system

While water is being restored to the city this afternoon, officials are encouraging residents to continue to use bottled water.

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — UPDATE 10/21/21: Crews have repaired the water line break in Benton Harbor and have begun to refill the system. While water is being restored to the city this afternoon, officials are encouraging residents to continue to use bottled water to decrease their potential lead intake.

Water must be reintroduced slowly to avoid damaging pipes, stirring up sediment or damaging the pipes' protective coating. Officials ask that flushing of pipes, showering and other activities that require high water usage are postponed until the water system is fully pressurized.

Residents needing bottled water can pick it up Friday, Oct. 22 at the Southwest Michigan Community Action Agency from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and God’s Household of Faith from 2-6 p.m. Water can also be delivered by calling the Berrien County Health Department hotline at 1-800-815-5485 or 211.

Officials say that Benton Harbor residents should follow these guidelines as water returns to the system:

  • Residents should continue to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, rinsing foods, and mixing powdered infant formula. 
  • The city will continue to be under a bottled water advisory out of an abundance of caution to reduce the risk of lead even after water services is restored. 
  • After the water pressure is restored, residents should flush the water taps for five minutes before using the water for washing hands, showering or bathing. 
  • For faucets with removable aerators remove them first – small screens that trap sediments – remove them and clean any debris that has accumulated. 
  • The water may have discoloration after service is restored. This is due to sediment disruption within the water lines caused by the disruption in pressure. Residents should run water until it is clear before using for showering, bathing and other non-consuming activities. 
  • Flush toilets at least twice to move fresh water through the plumbing. 
  • For faucets and showers: If possible, remove faucet aerators before flushing. Run cold water taps at full flow for several minutes first, followed by hot water taps. 
  • Run an empty load in dishwashers and washing machines to clear the water lines.

Additional locations and dates for picking up bottled water can be found by clicking here.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The City of Benton Harbor experienced a large water main break around 4 p.m. on Wednesday, resulting in a system-wide loss of water pressure, the Berrien County Health Department says.

Benton Harbor mayor Marcus Muhammad said the water main break emptied the city's water tower.

Residents should not drink the water until further notice. Water services should be restored within a day, officials said.

Those affected should continue to use bottled water for cooking, drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, rinsing foods and mixing with powdered infant formula. 

The Health Department said residents should continue this process even after the water is fixed. All taps should be flushed for five minutes before use.

Free bottled water is available at pickup locations across the city, as well as for home delivery. Water trucks will also be provided at the locations, allowing residents to get larger quantities of water. 

Residents who cannot get to one of the distribution sites should call the Berrien County Health Department at 800-815-5485. 

The following are water distribution sites, as announced by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:

Wednesday, Oct. 20

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 1-3 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 21

  • Southwest Community Action Agency, 331 Miller St., 4-6 p.m.          

Friday, Oct. 22

  • God's Household of Faith, 275 Pipestone Road, 2-6 p.m.
  • Southwest Community Action Agency (Self-service pick-up), 331 Miller St., 10-2 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 23

  • Boys & Girls Club of Benton Harbor, 600 Nate Wells Sr. Drive, 10 a.m.-noon.
  • Harbor of Hope Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 769 Pipestone, 4-6 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 24

  • Abundant Life Church of God, 693 Columbus Ave., 3-5 p.m.
  • Brotherhood of All Nations, 516 Emery Ave., 4-6 p.m.

RELATED VIDEO: Benton Harbor declares state of emergency over lead in water

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