Ferndale replacing more lead service lines in next 3 years

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published April 24, 2021


FERNDALE — The Ferndale City Council made a decision at its most recent meeting that will increase the number of lead service lines replaced over the next three years.

At its April 12 meeting, the council approved the replacement of lead service lines under a South Oakland County Water Authority contract for $716,319. This decision will allow Ferndale to replace more service lines than initially anticipated.

Last year, the city worked with SOCWA to put out a proposal for lead service line replacements. The contract eventually was awarded to D’Angelo Brothers Inc. The city will pay SOCWA to administer the contract and pay DBI for its services.

According to the city, utilizing the SOCWA contract will allow it to replace an additional 158 lead service lines, an increase of 38% from what Ferndale expected to replace this year.

Ferndale has largely mapped out its lead service line replacement plan over the next three years. The city has received a $10 million loan through a drinking water revolving loan fund from the state of Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

“During the time between now and then when we actually have to begin paying on the principal of our loan, we only have to pay interest on it,” Department of Public Works Deputy Director Dan Antosik said. “What that does is it leads to additional dollars that we budgeted for lead service line replacements in our budget, because we don’t have to pay the principal yet. So what we’re doing is we are allocating those budgeted funds towards lead service line replacements through the SOCWA contract.”

The replacement of lead service lines is a statewide mandate through Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, which requires every city to replace all known lead lines.

That $10 million will replace 1,200 lines over the next three years, including 413 in 2021. The SOCWA contract approval from council, Antosik said, will help complete an extra 25% of lines on top of that in the same time period. The city will not have to begin paying on the principal of the loan until May 2024.

After the city received its approval for the $10 million, it was able to go back to the SOCWA contract to see how many lines could be replaced under that deal.

The extra lines will be completed on West Troy Street, between Allen and Livernois streets, and Ardmore Drive, between Woodward Avenue and Hilton Road.

While the city will replace an additional 158 lines this year, Antosik said, it’s unknown how many more it will be able to do in the coming two years. Ferndale began lead line replacements the week of April 12, and the city will continue until the weather won’t allow for construction.

“Next year, it could be an additional 100 or it could be an additional 175,” he said. “It all depends on if we’re having to do full replacements or partial replacements of those service lines.”

The replacements on West Troy and Ardmore will coincide with a resurfacing project that will take place in June.

Councilwoman Laura Mikulski said during the meeting that she’s heard a lot of concerns about the city doing lead service line replacements on streets that have previously been resurfaced or not doing lead service line replacement on streets that are going through the resurfacing process.

“It’s one of those things that, from the outside looking in, we would hope that there’s as much operational efficiencies that we can gain as possible,” she said. “So anytime that a street’s being resurfaced, if we can take advantage of that opportunity and do the lead service line replacement during that, that would make the most sense.”