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Contracts approved to replace lead service lines in St. Clair Shores

Education meeting Feb. 6; residents sought for Water Advisory Committee

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published January 28, 2020

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Since the state’s new lead and copper rule has made it mandatory for St. Clair Shores to replace private lead water service lines, the city has now begun a pilot replacement program to replace the lines in some affected homes this year.

About 2% of St. Clair Shores houses have private service lines connecting the house to the public water supply that are made of lead. Under the new state law, St. Clair Shores must replace 7% of those lines per year.

To that end, Department of Public Works Director Bryan Babcock was in front of the City Council Jan. 20 to seek approval for a plan that would “start getting these lead lines out of the city.”

The city has 25,000 water service connections, he said. Less than 8,000 of those are copper service lines and more than 500 are known to be lead service lines, but there are “a number of unknowns that we’re going to have to confirm.”

This summer, in locations where water mains are being replaced, 50 known lead service lines will be replaced. The state expects the city to replace 37 lines, at a minimum, this year, but Babcock said that with the City Council’s approval, more will be replaced if there is enough time.

Babcock stressed that it wasn’t that the city suddenly had unsafe water, it was that the state altered the way communities tested for lead.

“It’s not a health risk level. It’s a level that requires the city to do additional work to provide information to their residents,” he said. “If you have water sitting in a lead service line, then lead can seep into the water overnight, and you turn the faucet on and you consume that water.”

The City Council approved contracts with Fontana Construction, of Sterling Heights; Bricco Excavating Co., of Oak Park; and D&D Water and Sewer, of Canton, for a total of $300,000 at the Jan. 20 council meeting. After the city received bids from seven contractors, officials discovered that those three companies’ prices were the lowest and very close to one another. The three companies agreed to charge an average unit price of their three bids to the city, so the work will be spread between the trio for the as-needed replacements.

Babcock said the companies are going to work together so that if a job comes in to one company, but that company does not have time to do it, the work can be passed to another one of the three companies that is available.

Work will begin at the four homes where the tested lead level exceeded the action level of 15 ppb (parts per billion) and will proceed through the first 34 homes that have confirmed lead service lines.

“It’s a simple, quick procedure as long as we can have access to your water meter,” Babcock said.

A city employee will be supervising the work to ensure that it is done correctly and the pipes are properly flushed after the line is replaced, he said.

Councilman Ron Frederick said he is hopeful that the work can be completed sooner rather than later.

“(If) we could finish this year, that would be huge,” he said.

Babcock said that any resident who has received a letter from the city about the potential for a lead service line in their home is asked to respond and submit a photo so that their home can be placed on the replacement list, if necessary.

“These contractors say they can do two a day. If you have lead, fill out the survey,” he said. “Fill out the access agreement.”

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“We put together a good project that I think is going to be a good product for our residents,” Babcock said.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the contracts.

St. Clair Shores will hold an additional education meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at Blossom Heath Inn, 24800 Jefferson Ave., with representatives from the city, the Macomb County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes and the Environment to inform residents of the latest updates to the project and give them an opportunity to ask questions if they have any.

St. Clair Shores is also looking for two more residents for its Water Advisory Committee, which just began this month. Applications are available at