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"Water Box" system available in Benton Harbor to cut down on need for bottled water; state still recommends bottled water only

There’s now one more option for Benton Harbor residents to get filtered water. Residents can now get water in larger jugs, through a filtered water system set up at the Benton Harbor Housing Commission.

The system is the same as those set up previously in Flint, but the a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says the state is still recommending bottled water only for residents.

A list of upcoming bottled water distribution sites is available online here.

Sheila Hill is executive director of the Benton Harbor Housing Commission, where the new "Water Box" system is installed. She said residents have been coming in to use the system in order to have water in larger containers. People can get water from the Water Box in three or five gallon jugs.

“It gets quite cumbersome to be able to cook in the kitchen and opening up bottle after bottle of water,” Hill said. “Not to mention the recycling nightmare that the bottled water may create in your house.”

The filtered water system, called the Water Box, is made by a non-profit called 501CTHREE.

Hill said residents can get water at the housing commission’s office at 721 Nate Wells Sr. Drive. The commission office is open Monday through Thursday.

More information on bottled water distribution in Benton Harbor is available online here.

The state of Michigan says residents who need additional information, or who need help paying for utility bills, can call 211.

Update: This story has been updated to include the recommendation from MDHHS for Benton Harbor residents to drink bottled water only.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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