GR residents urged to replace lead pipes during city work

Homeowners have to foot the bill to replace their part of lead service lines

An image explaining lead service lines in Grand Rapids. (March 31, 2016)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids will be replacing several lead water service lines throughout the city this summer.

Some projects are already underway, including one on Jefferson Street SE. There, century-old lead pipes can be found lying on the ground at the construction site.

The city’s responsibility is the pipes under the roads. It urges homeowners to replace their portion of the service line, which stretches from the property line to the home, to avoid any contamination problems that may result from the chemical reaction between a new copper pipe and an old lead one.

A meeting discussing lead service lines in Grand Rapids. (March 31, 2016)
A meeting discussing lead service lines in Grand Rapids.

There was an informational meeting in one Grand Rapids neighborhood Thursday to discuss the lead services lines. Juan Rosario and his dad were among the attendees.

“There’s a little bit of kind of apprehension, a little bit. But it comes with … the benefit,” Rosario said.

His family lives along Jefferson. At the meeting, they learned about the importance of replacing their portion of the service line. The copper lines, they were told, can cause the lead in the old pipes to become charged and then seep into the water that goes to their faucets.

“Obviously, we’ve seen the issues that Flint has had and all that stuff, so we don’t necessarily want those issues here,” Rosario said.

The city doesn’t want it to happen, either.

“We have a list of homes that we select from and they are the high-risk homes, so we test homes with lead service lines,” Grand Rapids Water System Manager Joeellen Thompson said.

Thompson says the city is required to test lead levels and plans to keep an eye on communities like the one along Jefferson to measure the projects’ effect.

The current lead pipe replacement effort is expected to be completed in September.

The cost for a homeowner to replace their portion of the service line often runs between $1,500 and $2,000. The city is considering lowering the interest rates on its loans to cover the cost.



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