By ED WHITE
Michigan officials are defending their response to a lead crisis in a corner of the state. They told lawmakers Thursday that steps to reduce corrosion in Benton Harbor’s aging water pipes began in 2019, just a few months after tests revealed troubling lead results. Benton Harbor’s 9,700 residents are being urged to use free bottled water for drinking and cooking, until officials are confident that tap filters can work effectively. Liesl Clark of Michigan’s environmental agency says the ultimate remedy is the replacement of about 6,000 old water lines at Benton Harbor homes. She says the pipes are releasing lead into the water.