Macomb Daily News
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Work crews will soon begin replacing lead service lines to about 500 homes in St. Clair Shores at no cost to impacted homeowners, city officials said Friday.
But first, the city's Department of Public Works must receive signed agreements from property owners allowing the crews to gain access to the houses, according to DPW Director Bryan Babcock.
"We anticipate the work will take 1-2 hours per house, along with some prep work," Babcock said. "After we're done replacing the line, we have to flush it and restore the property back to the condition it was found in."
Last month, the City Council awarded contracts to three companies to do the work: Fontana Construction of Sterling Heights, Bricco Excavating Company of Oak Park and Canton-based D&D Water and Sewer.
Under the replacement program, contracts were awarded to three low bidding contractors at an average unit price. By averaging the prices, the contractors will be able to work more as a team to expedite the completion of the work.
For example, if one contractor is busy working on other projects, they may choose to give their service line replacement orders to one of the other two contractors are able to complete the work at an earlier date.
The move is in response to recent changes made under the revised Michigan Lead and Copper Rule, which has resulted in many communities -- including St. Clair Shores -- now reporting excessive levels of lead in drinking water pipes and homes.
In St. Clair Shores, there are 25,000 water service customers, with 522 known to be lead service lines.
According to the CDC, exposure to high levels of lead may cause anemia, weakness, and kidney and brain damage. Very high lead exposures can be fatal. Lead can cross the placental barrier, which means pregnant women who are exposed to lead also expose the unborn child.
Lead enters drinking water primarily as a result of corrosion, or wearing away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system and plumbing. Those most at risk of lead poisoning include children under the age of 6 living in older homes or homes with lead paint, pregnant women, adults exposed to lead due to their occupation and refugees.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) is requiring communities to replace 7% of the private lead service lines per year. However, St. Clair Shores is committed to removing lead service lines at a faster rate than the state minimum, according to Babcock.
According to city documents, each of the service line replacements is expected to cost about $5,000-$5,600 to replace at the city's expense. The pilot program's initial budget will be $300,000. Contractors will divide the city into three sections and each contractor will be given about $100,000 worth of the work.
The money comes from the city's water utility replacement fund and will not cost the homeowner anything.
"It's going to make houses safer to consume water in," Babcock said. "The general public will not see a change in the quality of their water, but there are trace amounts of lead. We are working to make the water as safe as humanly possible to drink."
Mary Jane D'Herde, the city's communications director, said a public presentation will be made Thursday on the replacement program and what the work entails.
Local, county and state officials are expected to take part in the presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. at Blossom Heath Inn, 24800 Jefferson Ave. (south of 10 Road), St. Clair Shores. For more information, call 586-447-3305 or visit scsmi.net/892/SCS-Lead-Safe.
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