Grand Haven city council delays action on lead pipes

Posted at 2:49 PM, Jan 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-11 22:29:57-05

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — Nearly half of the pipes in Grand Haven contain lead and will need to be replaced.

Grand Haven Public Works Director Derek Gajdos said about 45 percent of the city’s 4,500 water service lines are made of lead and will need to be replaced within the next 20 years.

Last June, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality revised state standards of acceptable lead levels in water from 15 parts per billion to 12 ppb by 2025. The measure also requires municipalities to create an inventory of lead lines by 2020.

State guidelines require at least 5 percent of lines to be replaced annually, which would be around 100 per year in Grand Haven.

Gadjos says in order to comply with that standard, the city would need to hire two or three Department of Public Works employees. He also said the project would cost the city $500,000 per year.

Residents will be required to replace private portions of water lines comprised of lead. On Monday, Gadjos asked city council members to approve a cap of $500 of assistance from the city per residence.

City council voted to postpone setting a cap while it waits for ongoing litigation regarding the new regulations in Lansing. Gadjos said Mayor Geri McCaleb claimed the city has higher priorities at the meeting.

Overall, Gadjos said the replacement of lead lines could cost the city more than $5 million for public lines and up to $4 million in private lines.

Residential water sampling is conducted in Grand Haven every three years and will take place in 2019. If lead levels test higher than 12 ppb, the city will be required to replace 7 percent of the lines annually.