EAST LANSING, Mich. – This past June, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) finalized a change to its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), expanding the obligations and responsibilities of local municipalities as it relates to water service lines with lead components.
The City of East Lansing is now responsible for replacing all lead and galvanized water service lines in the community on both public and private property (between the City’s water main and a resident’s water meter) by 2040, at an average replacement rate of 5 percent per year. The rule change also requires the City to notify residents served by lead service lines within 30 days of determining the service line content.
City officials have already sent out an initial 175 notification letters and will continue to do so as service line components are determined. Community members, especially those with homes built prior to 1950, can help in this effort by taking the City’s online water survey, which serves as a way to self report the components of their water service lines. The survey can be found at www.cityofeastlansing.com/watersurvey. Community members who would prefer to have City staff evaluate their water service line can call the East Lansing Department of Public Works (DPW) at (517) 337-9459 to schedule an appointment.
Community members should note that there is no known current health or safety concern with water services in East Lansing. East Lansing’s water source is groundwater drawn from a deep sandstone aquifer that underlies the region. It is treated by the East Lansing-Meridian Water and Sewer Authority (ELMWSA) to reduce hardness, which results in a consistent supply of drinking water that is optimized to control corrosion.
“ELMWSA recognizes the importance of managing water chemistry and treating water to make it less likely that lead will dissolve into the water and we have made no significant changes to East Lansing’s water source or treatment in decades,” said ELMWSA Manager Clyde Dugan. “By controlling the corrosivity of the water, the amount of lead in the tap is kept to a minimum.”
ELMWSA has been testing for lead in homes since 1992 and the results have consistently been in compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act LCR, with 90th percentile lead levels below the Action Level of .015 parts per million. These compliance samples are taken in households with the highest potential of elevated lead results.
As a part of the City of East Lansing’s ongoing water survey effort and the MDEQ rule change, twelve service lines in East Lansing have been replaced so far. Based on the trends indicated by the early survey results and given that there are approximately 2,450 homes built prior to 1950 in the community, City staff is forecasting that approximately 600 lead service lines will require replacement over the next 20 years. The goal is to replace the service lines utilizing trenchless technology when possible, which is the most cost-effective method and will minimize damage to landscaping on properties. City staff also plans to replace lines in conjunction with underground infrastructure and road improvement projects (both public and private projects) when possible to reduce costs. Lines with system failures and lines serving sensitive populations will also be given first priority in the replacement process.
It’s important to note that, as a part of the MDEQ rule change, all costs for the full replacement of these lines, on both public and private property, will be incurred by the City’s water fund. Property owners will not incur a cost for the replacement of their line. Community members with questions can contact DPW at (517) 337-9459.