Kzoo City Commission OKs funds to replace lead pipes

City on track to replace 450 lead water lines in 2017


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Flint water crisis has the leaders of other Michigan cities thinking about how to avoid similar problems.

At a Monday meeting, the Kalamazoo City Commission agreed to spend more than $800,000 to replace hundreds of lead water lines in Kalamazoo Township.

In the spring of 2014, Flint switched its water source and that caused lead from the pipes to contaminate the drinking water. That led to elevated lead levels in children.

“Certainly, Flint was a game-changer,” Kalamazoo Public Services Director James Baker said.

Baker said his department identified about 3,000 lead pipes in the service area. The city is on pace to replace up to 450 of them this year. The idea is to switch out the water lines while the streets are dug up for planned road repairs.

“We’re trying to be proactive in that we don’t want to have to go dig that road back up whether it be two, five, 10 years from now,” Baker said.

He said the plan will allow the city to get the job done and save some money, adding that it would cost up to $35 million to replace all of the lead pipes in the service area.

“That amount is not in the budget right now,” he said.

Baker said the water in Kalamazoo is safe to drink, even for lines with lead pipes.

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Kalamazoo on water quality