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Advisory Council to keep St. Clair Shores residents updated on lead service lines

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 14, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores City Council has appointed a five-member Water System Advisory Council in accordance with a requirement from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or EGLE.

Mayor Kip Walby said that, since the city is dealing with some lead service lines with elevated levels of lead in their water, the creation of such a council was required.

The members will consist of Department of Public Works Director Bryan Babcock, Water Department Supervisor Russ Miller, City Manager Matthew Coppler, Fire Chief James Piper — who is also a resident of St. Clair Shores and who has a lead service line — and resident Brett Smith, who is with the department of public works in Grosse Pointe Shores.

The council has a “lot of in-depth knowledge of what’s happening here,” Walby said.

Councilman John Caron said that he’d like to see two additional residents that don’t hold any positions with the city appointed, as well, creating a committee of seven members.

“I do think we need two independent residents,” Councilwoman Candice Rusie agreed. “I think the spirit of having two people who are not on municipal staff to represent the residents … would be invaluable.”

The resident-position terms expire Dec. 31, 2021, Coppler said, so every two years, new residents would have to be appointed to the committee.

Caron explained that the group will be responsible for communicating with residents what is being done to rectify the lead service line situation, not giving input on any engineering designs or plans.

“(The committee will be) making sure people in the community are involved … in a way that can be understood,” he said.

Some responsibilities will include developing plans for continued public awareness about lead in drinking water, review of public awareness campaign materials provided by the statewide Drinking Water Advisory Council, advising and consulting on efforts to replace private lead service lines, promoting transparency of all data and documents, and collaborating with local community groups to ensure that all residents have the opportunity to be involved in the efforts to educate the community.

The motion approving the membership and creation of the board was approved unanimously at the Jan. 6 City Council meeting.