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Grand Rapids to replace over 2000 lead lines in 2023

water pipes.jpg
Environmental Protection Agency
An image provided by the Environmental Protection Agency shows examples of a lead pipe, left, a corroded steel pipe, center, and a lead pipe treated with protective orthophosphate. The EPA is only now requiring water systems to take stock of their lead pipes, decades after new ones were banned.

Effort part of state mandate of being lead-free by 2040.

The City of Grand Rapids Thursday announced it plans to replace over 2000 lead (led) lines in 2023, the most its ever planned in a single year, according to officials.

The replacement is part of the State of Michigan’s recent mandate requiring all cities to replace its lead lines by 2040.

In Grand Rapids, to date, 3,100 lead service lines have been replaced since 2017, however, 23,000 lead lines remain citywide.

Wayne Jernberg is the Water System Manager for the City of Grand Rapids. He says while replacing the lines is needed, residents should not worry about the quality of water they are drinking.

“We don’t have an issue with lead in our water, the city adds a orthophosphate corrosion control chemical to our water that prevents or helps mitigate the risk of lead being leached into the water,” Jernberg said.

“People hear this story, and they may be worried that Grand Rapids could be the next Flint…

“So, the city gets its water from Lake Michigan,” Jernberg said. “A lot of people still think that we get our water from the Grand River that is not the case. We haven’t done that in over 30 years.”

Jernberg explains that the Lake Michigan Filtration Plant, located in West Olive, MI, treats and pumps an average of 36 million gallons of water daily. The treated drinking water from the filtration plant is lead-free when it leaves the plant and remains lead-free as it moves through the underground distribution system. When the drinking water reaches an older home or commercial structure, it is possible that lead particles from the privately owned lead water service line or interior plumbing fixtures may enter the drinking water. Hence the need for replacements.