BH schools, homes continue to test drinking water for lead

BENTON HARBOR — Donations of bottled water continue to pour into Benton Harbor Area Schools as the district gets the water at each school tested to make sure it is safe to drink.
Superintendent/CEO Bob Herrera ordered that all schools use bottled water for drinking and cooking after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued an advisory last week that higher-than-acceptable levels of lead were found in some of Benton Harbor’s drinking water.
Herrera said school districts connected to a municipal water system are only required to test the water as it comes into the building.
He said the water coming into the buildings is safe to drink, but it may pick up lead from the faucet itself or from plumbing material.
He said he learned about water testing when he was superintendent of South Haven Public Schools, where the district is required to test its water regularly because it gets its water from a well.
“The water has to sit stagnant for eight hours,” he said.
“They come in at 4:30 or 5 (a.m.) and collect the water.” Herrera said MDEQ is testing the water for free at school buildings in the Benton Harbor city limits.
Donated bottled water can be dropped off at the school district’s administration offices at 1995 Union Ave., Benton Township.
Interestingly, he said, Benton Township on Wednesday advised many of its water customers to boil water for 1 minute prior to consumption because the system lost pressure due to the malfunction of two pressure-sustaining valves.
Because the schools in the township were already using bottled water, he said no changes had to be made.

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