St. Clair Shores Water Supervisor Russ Miller speaks to residents Marilyn Florek and Ericka Wheeler about their water concerns at the St. Clair Shores Lead Safe Open House Nov. 7, 2019.

St. Clair Shores Water Supervisor Russ Miller speaks to residents Marilyn Florek and Ericka Wheeler about their water concerns at the St. Clair Shores Lead Safe Open House Nov. 7, 2019.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Eight sites tested in St. Clair Shores exceed action level for lead in water

St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 22, 2021

 Steve Schmidt, with the Macomb County Health Department, discusses water filtration with Malinda Madison in 2019. The city has since issued another alert after eight sites reported lead levels exceeding 15 parts per billion.

Steve Schmidt, with the Macomb County Health Department, discusses water filtration with Malinda Madison in 2019. The city has since issued another alert after eight sites reported lead levels exceeding 15 parts per billion.

File photo by Deb Jacques

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores officials once again alerted the community to potential lead in water from homes with lead service lines after semiannual testing found eight sites out of 62 tested where the Action Level of 15 parts per billion was exceeded.

“We have to sample twice a year, 60 homes,” said Department of Public Works Director Bryan Babcock. “Until we can get enough of the lead service lines out of the system, there’s always going to be a chance of exceeding the action level because you have to sample at homes with lead service lines.”

The city first alerted residents that the lead levels had exceeded the state’s action level in November 2019. Since then, St. Clair Shores has begun replacing lead service lines in homes. Although the pandemic reduced the amount of work that could be done in 2020, the city was still able to replace 100 lead service lines. Babcock said they believe there are still about 720 lead service lines remaining to be replaced, and the city is actively proceeding with that work. That amount is about 2.7% of the 26,369 water customers in the city.

Residents who believe they have a lead service line or wish to check if they do can get more information at www.scsmi.net/892/SCS-Lead-Safe. Residents who have not yet reported their line to the city can fill out an agreement form on the site to be contacted by St. Clair Shores officials when a replacement is available.

“As we’re working through the city, we’re calling people saying, ‘We’re ready, do you want to make an appointment?’” Babcock said. “We are here to talk to people and answer questions.”

Residents who meet state-mandated qualifications can also receive a water filter by calling (586) 447-3305 from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Qualifications include having a child younger than 18 or a pregnant woman living at the address, being a caregiver or having a child younger than 18 routinely spending time at the address, receiving WIC benefits or Medicaid insurance, or if a person can’t afford a filter and replacement cartridges.

In a bulletin from the city, officials stress that it is still safe to wash hands with water that contains lead, as human skin does not easily absorb lead from water. Unfiltered water is OK to use for showering or bathing, washing hands, dishes or clothes, and cleaning.

“The problem has not gone away,” Babcock said. “We still have water filters available from the state.

“You need to be safe. You have to be mindful to maintain the filter, (to) change the filter and the cartridges.”

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