In Benton Harbor, Michigan, residents began using bottled water in October 2021 when state officials said the level of lead in municipal water had reached elevated levels.
Recognizing this challenge for families, and in keeping with its goal of providing safe and reliable water solutions within everyone’s reach, Elkay was proud to join forces with 501CTHREE to launch a Water Box at the Benton Harbor Housing Commission in December 2021.
Designed with local water composition in mind, Water Box is a short-term solution when clean water isn’t readily available. It’s a sort of vending machine that treats municipal water to eliminate contaminants like lead and bacteria.
Residents can visit the Water Box to pick up water in gallon or larger reusable containers, meaning the system also eliminates the use of single-use plastic water bottles. Importantly, water samples from the system are tested daily by community members to ensure the water remains clean and safe.
Since its inception in 2019, 501CTHREE has deployed 17 Water Boxes across the U.S., providing over 100,000 gallons of free drinking water to community members and replacing over 850,000 16-ounce plastic bottles.
The Water Box at the Benton Harbor Housing Commission was made possible by a joint effort between 501CTHREE and Elkay, which had been supporting Water Box with donations of its ezH2O Liv™ water dispensers. This was the first Water Box location sponsored by Elkay.
Benton Harbor is a predominantly African American, mostly low-income community about 100 miles from Chicago. Knowing the community had been affected by contaminated water for some time, Elkay was glad to help bring healthier hydration and support a cleaner environment through the Water Box partnership.
“Low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately experience contaminated tap water,” said 501CTHREE founder Drew Fitzgerald when announcing the Benton Harbor Water Box. “We saw this problem most notoriously in Flint, but contaminated drinking water is a problem throughout the country and that is why we are here with the community in Benton Harbor.”