Lead pipes barely an issue in Eastpointe, Roseville

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 18, 2016

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While some Michigan communities do not know where all their lead water pipes are — such as Flint — this is not the case in Eastpointe and Roseville, as far as public lines go.

According to Eastpointe City Manager Steve Duchane, the city does not have any lead-based, publicly owned water lines operating.

“The city has not had those for years,” Duchane said. “The only ones in the system that have been replaced in the past several years have been pipes with (lead) joints.”

Lead solder was used on water pipes in many homes built before 1986, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, before being phased out with 1991’s lead and copper rule. The EPA’s lead contamination limit is 15 parts per billion — any more than that in at least 10 percent of customers’ water sampled and the municipality must institute additional corrosion controls and other measures. The agency’s goal is zero lead in the water.

Michigan instituted its own lead ban on home construction in 1982, Roseville Department of Public Services Director Tom Aiuto said.

“All solder had lead in it, so any home built before 1982 probably has a bit in it,” Aiuto said. “But nothing after 1982 would have (anything lead-based), or should not have anything if the owner was following the rules.”

Duchane said that there are still some homes within Eastpointe that have lead service lines or lead-soldered joints. The Great Lakes Water Authority uses corrosion control additives to keep lead from leaching out of those pipes into taps; the additives create a protective layer in the pipes to prevent lead from coming into contact with the water itself.

“We test all the time for this (through the Great Lakes Water Authority), and our lead content in water is substantially under 5 parts per billion,” Duchane said. “That’s well below the federal and legal limits.”

The city’s most recent publicly available testing is from 2014-15 and is available on the city’s website, www.cityofeastpointe.net. Duchane added that updated testing is underway and is so far showing an improvement. That data should be posted this summer.

Duchane suggested that concerned residents should look into hiring an independent water testing company to check if they should replace their service lines. The Eastpointe Water and Sewer Department does not do water testing for residents, but the city can provide a list of certified laboratories. Call (586) 445-3661 for the list.

In Roseville, Aiuto said that the city-owned lines are all either made of cast iron, ductile iron or — in some cases — high-density plastic. Over the past 29 years and thousands of sewer digs and inspections, he said they have found a lead pipe leading from a water main to a private lead “four or five” times, and those pipes were replaced immediately.

In the event that city workers do find a private pipe that is lead or visibly has lead solder, Aiuto said the city then alerts the homeowner with a letter that explains that the pipe should be replaced.

He said that every year, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality mandates that a water quality test be done, and those results are sent out with the water bills in April, May and June. Aiuto said there has not been any problem with lead locally.

If a homeowner has concerns about their water quality, Aiuto said they can contact the city at (586) 445-5470 about getting their water tested.

The homeowner would have to pay for the testing, but the DPS would handle the testing itself, Aiuto said.

He said the exact cost of the water testing depends on what laboratory the city uses in that instance, but he added that one such lab, based in Ann Arbor, charges $25 for a lead test.

“We leave them the bottle the night before we do the sample, and then we’d pick it up (the next day),” he said. “From our test results, there is no reason to have any concern for the city of Roseville, and being on the Great Lakes Water Authority, there’s no reason for any alarm.”