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Grand Rapids moves forward with lead pipe replacement plan with $5.1MIL grant

Grand Rapids was 1 of just 3 cities to receive the competitive grant from the Environmental Protection Agency
Lead Water Service Lines Grand Rapids
Posted at 4:36 PM, Jul 14, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Thy city has officially approved the usage of a $5.1 million dollar grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to begin the process of replacing more than 1,000 residential lead water service lines. Because the state expanded our Safe Water Drinking Act, the city's water system must fund the price tag to replace all 24,000 active lead service lines within Grand Rapids by 2041.

There are currently more than 24,000 lead water service lines in use in Grand Rapids. The city says these make up about 30% of the entire water system.

“This is really a benefit long-term for all of our residents to get this, get these pipes out of the ground, and really stop the the potential of exposure to lead in drinking water,” said Wayne Jernberg, water system manager for Grand Rapids.

“We know that our residents, and our community cares about getting the lead out.”

On Tuesday, the city commission officially approved an agreement to utilize the $5,141,000 EPA grant to begin the process of replacing lead water service lines in the city.

Grand Rapids was one of just three cities to secure this specific grant— the others being Benton Harbor and Providence, Rhode Island.

“So, it's the portion from the stop box, and the right away into the house that we're replacing, and the portion that the city typically owns in the right of way has already been replaced with copper in previous projects years ago.”

The work funded by this grant money is expected to last until 2024.

But, Jernberg said, “we're talking about a price tag of over $130 Million to replace all these lead service lines over the next 20 plus years.”

Of course, the EPA grant is only a fraction of the total $130 Million needed to fund the process of replacing all of the city's lead service lines.

“In this situation, we have gone through strategically and identified several neighborhoods... in the city of Grand Rapids that have higher concentrations of lead service lines, and that's where we're going to be applying these dollars.”

The city will continue to raise money and apply for grants to continue funding this project over the next 20 years.