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New policy makes it more affordable for residents to switch out lead service lines to their homes

posted Apr 26, 2016, 12:29 PM by Marie Cimochowicz
City of Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids City Commission has adopted a new policy that makes it more affordable for property owners to replace lead services.

In April, the City Commission adopted a new ordinance that sets a new lower finance rate. set over the course of 10 years, for those wishing to finance their portion of lead water service replacement.

As a routine practice during road construction projects, the City of Grand Rapids Water System already replaces its part of the service. The City's line runs from the main to the shut off valve, generally near the sidewalk.  It now hopes the new lower finance rate of just 3.38 percent will encourage property owners to replace their section. Homeowners are responsible for the section of line from the stop valve to the home. In the past, City Ordinance dictated a 7 percent finance rate for those who wished for the City to replace the homeowner's lead service line.

Officials stress that the City encourages replacement of lead service lines as a routine practice to update aging infrastructure -- not as a matter of public health. Water testing shows that Grand Rapids’ water is not corrosive and contains negligible lead levels, with levels now at historic lows — reading at 2.2 parts per billion (ppb) which is well below the state’s acceptable level of 15 ppb.

Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong explains that the City replaces lead service lines when conducting road construction projects. He said that during the planning stage, the City contacts property owners asking if they wish to replace the service line to their home during construction. According to DeLong, property owners can expect to pay in the range of $3,000-$5,000 for the portion of water pipe they are responsible for, depending on the length of pipe needing replacement.

“We’ll send notification to property owners asking if they want to take advantage of the discounted rate and proactively replace the service from the stop valve to their home. We hope residents consider replacement as we work in their neighborhood replacing our portion, so after the work they will have full replacement and a completely new service line,” DeLong said.

“This is very timely action by the City Commission because the 2016 Vital Streets projects are just getting started and this new rate will hopefully encourage residents to replace their section while we are in their neighborhood.”

Residents who wish to sign up for replacement or those with questions about whether they have lead service lines to their homes can call 311 or dial (616) 456-3000. Customer service agents, water system workers and city engineers are easy to work with and will make the line replacement as seamless as possible.