News Feature | January 5, 2018

Michigan Community Sets Aggressive Lead Service Line Replacement Precedent

Peter Chawaga - editor
kalamazoo.reg

As locales all over the country wrestle with lead contamination in their drinking water, one Michigan community is taking an aggressive approach to the problem.

The municipal water system in Kalamazoo, MI, is moving relatively quickly to replace all of its lead service lines.

“Almost three times the number of water service lines containing lead were replaced in 2017 compared to its previous schedule,” Michigan Live reported. “A total of 472 were disconnected as of Dec. 18, compared to 120 in 2016.”

Yet at least 2,835 such lines still remain in place, per Michigan Live. Plus, over 7,000 lines remain unidentified and could very well contain lead.

Despite the aggressive action, the city hasn’t had a particularly troublesome history with lead contamination. According to the report, 2016 tests showed that 90 percent of samples contained less than 4 ppb of lead. The U.S. EPA only requires action if the 90th percentile of concentrations reach 15 ppb.

It’s likely that the history of nearby Flint, MI, which declared a state of emergency two years ago due to lead contamination of drinking water, as well as potential changes to the state’s Lead and Copper Rule are fueling Kalamazoo’s aggressive actions. This work is set to continue next year as well, despite the costs that typically stop other communities from replacing lead service lines.

“A total of around $10.5 million is expected to be spent on lead service removals in the next five years,” per Michigan Live. “Overall, the city plans to spend $2 million next year, and hopes to remove 500 pipes.”

To read more about lead removal efforts visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Downton Kalamazoo – looking west," Bill Dolak © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/