City of Grand Rapids to replace 2,000+ lead service lines this year
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A massive lead-line replacement project is underway in Grand Rapids, as the city plans to remove more than 2,000 lead service lines this year.
A key partnership is helping the city streamline the work.
Teaming up with the “Vital Streets Program,” the city will double-up on the effectiveness of replacements by timing them with road construction projects.
Some work has already been done. Crews replaced lines on private properties between water meters and curb boxes, while crews addressed water leaks and construction projects, at a budget of $6 million per year.
Wayne Jernberg, the Grand Rapids Water System Manager, said the city did about 900 lines last year.
“The public is basically from the water main to the stop box, which is essentially there by the sidewalk,” Grand Rapids Water System Manager Wayne Jernberg told FOX17. “The private side would essentially be from that stop box up to the meter. Okay. And then once it gets inside the house becomes customer site piping.”
A city representative tells FOX 17 that replacement work began in 2017 at no expense to residents and businesses, with 3,100 service lines replaced since then. Roughly 23,000 lines remain.
This year’s goal of replacing 2,037 service lines is the most the city says it has ever proposed for a single year.
But that’s not all— the city promised to invest more funding in the future, thanks to a $5.1 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2020 and another $10 million from the state in 2021.
“The City of Grand Rapids Water System has a long history of protecting the public’s health and delivering high-quality drinking water,” says Jernberg. “Lake Michigan is a stable and dependable source of drinking water for the city.”
Jernberg clarifies water is clean and lead-free after it passes through the Lake Michigan Filtration Plant but may become contaminated when it reaches older buildings within the city.
“We add an ortho phosphate chemical to our water and our filtration plant that basically reduces any risk it creates, basically creates a scale on the inside of the pipe that’s hard, nothing flakes off, it’s insoluble,” Jernberg added.
The state of Michigan requires cities to replace all lead service lines by 2040, city officials say.
Nearly half of Grand Rapids’ overhaul will happen in the Third Ward, though crews will hit several streets throughout the city.
Visit the city’s website to view the 2021 Water Quality Report.
Track the current state of the city’s service lines with the city’s interactive map.
READ MORE: $60 million to fix Grand Rapids’ aging water infrastructure
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