Hazel Park issues public advisory on drinking water

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 7, 2020


HAZEL PARK — The city of Hazel Park has issued a public advisory on its drinking water, although officials emphasize that nothing has changed in the water supply. Rather, sampling rules have changed in accordance with revisions to the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. That being said, homes with lead service lines and repairs are advised to take proper precautions.

“It is important for our residents to remember this is household-specific,” said Ed Klobucher, the city manager of Hazel Park. “It is not area-specific in any way. There is no lead in the water that we provide our customers.”

The city has been testing the tap water in homes with lead service lines and repairs since 1992, checking for the presence of lead and copper. Following the Flint water crisis, the state imposed new standards for testing, changing the methodology and leading to more stringent sampling in communities with lead service lines and repairs.

The state measures lead and copper sampling using the 90th percentile rule. When more than 10% of the sites sampled in a water system are above the allowable 15 parts per billion, an “action level” is triggered. It should be noted this does not mean all customers have exceeded lead levels, nor is it a health-based standard or violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. Rather, it calls for additional sampling of water quality and educational outreach to water customers with simple steps on how to reduce potential exposure.

In the fall of 2019, Hazel Park sampled 30 homes with lead service lines and repairs, plus an additional home that had undergone an emergency service line repair. In four of the targeted homes, there were elevated lead levels above 15 ppb, triggering an action level where the city continued sampling and mailed notifications to customers. Two of the homes were later retested and fell safely within 15 ppb.   

For this year’s tests, 10 of 62 sites were found to have exceeded 15 ppb. As such, another action level is triggered, and at press time the city was preparing to mail out educational materials to customers. The city’s website, hazelpark.org, has also been updated with more information on the situation.

“City personnel will be retesting the 10 sites that demonstrated exceedance,” said Tim Young, the city’s water superintendent. He noted that residents will be kept apprised of the situation by way of quarterly postcards that the city will mail out through 2021. He also said that starting this year, Hazel Park has begun replacing lead services lines, at a rate of 7% per year for the next 20 years.

“The city will continue to sample lead service lines throughout 2020 and into 2021 to continue data gathering for the state of Michigan, and to identify homes where exceedance exists,” Young said.

The city is also considering participation in a lead service line corrosion control study that will be conducted by the state and the Great Lakes Water Authority. Residents with homes known to have a lead service line can call the Hazel Park Water Department at (248) 546-4076 if they would like to have their home considered for placement in the study’s sampling pool.

Staying safe
As described in the city’s advisory, the state recommends simple steps that homeowners can take to better protect themselves if they’re not sure what may be in their water:

• Run your water to flush out lead-containing water. If you do not have a lead service line, run it for 30 seconds to two minutes or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature. If you do have a lead service line, run the water for at least five minutes to flush water out of your home’s plumbing and lead service line.

• Consider using a filter to reduce lead in drinking water. This is especially recommended for any household with a child or a pregnant woman. Use a tested lead filter that has been certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain it and replace it as necessary.

• If your household has a child or a pregnant woman and cannot afford the cost of a lead filter, contact the Oakland County Health Department at (248) 424-7000 or (248) 858-1280.

• Use cold water for drinking, cooking or preparing baby formula.

• Do not boil your water. Boiling water will not reduce lead levels.

• Clean your faucet aerator to remove any trapped debris.

Anyone with health-related questions can contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services at (800) 648-6942, or contact the Oakland County Nurse on Call at (800) 848-5533 or noc@oakgov.com.

The city also has information on its website, hazelpark.org, on how to obtain water filters. Earlier this month and late last month, the city held filter distributions at Hazel Park Ice Arena.

“It is very important for the residents of the city of Hazel Park to know that the water our city obtains from the (Great Lakes Water Authority) is high-quality, safe water,” said Melissa Schwartz, Hazel Park’s city attorney. “Lead can leach into an individual home or business water supply due to that home or business having lead fixtures, lead service lines or some plumbing materials. … The city is proactively working to help ensure our community understands where elevated lead levels can come from, how to test your water, what measures to take to reduce your risk of lead exposure and resources available.”