Allegan city finalizes lead water line replacement plan

By: 
Ryan Lewis, editor

Allegan’s plan to replace water service lines made of lead will now be submitted to the state.

City council members voted Monday, June 8, at their regular meeting to approve the 20-year plan.

Water utilities director Doug Sweeris told council members, “The plan describes how we will identify (the lines), how many we have, and how many we’ll replace each year.”

The plan calls for approximately $150,000 annually to fund the work. An average of 65 to 75 service lines to homes, businesses and other structures will be replaced each year.

“It shows the budget that was approved last council meeting,” Sweeris said. “Some years it will be a little bit more as we do larger projects; some years it will be less.”

The plan goes to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy for approval.

 

Schedule

The Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act was expanded in 2018 as one of many ramifications of the Flint water crisis. The update instituted more thorough testing for lead. It required communities throughout the state to prepare preliminary inventories of lead service lines this past January and requires detailed inventories by Jan. 1, 2025. That is also when the action level for lead detected in drinking water will be lowered from its current 15 parts per billion to 12 ppb.

Most importantly, it requires each municipality to replace an average of 5 percent of all of its lead service lines annually for 20 years.

Sweeris said major road projects were driving the first rounds of replacements, since timing the work with when the road is being replaced anyway avoids tearing up new roadway and is more efficient. The 57 service lines it replaced as part of the road and utility work in the Russell/Robinson neighborhood and the 18 in the Wolcott/Riverview neighborhood last year count toward the effort despite being a year early.

No replacements are scheduled until the four road projects beginning in 2022: 67 replacements connected to downtown streetscape work, 95 connected to resurfacing along M-89/South Marshall Street, 35 connected to work on 4th, Wayne and Kalamazoo streets, and 55 connected to work along Herkimer, Bond, Division, and Oak Court. Then in 2027, work is planned for 59 replacements along with work on Arnold, Lake Drive, and North.

The city will also replace lines immediately as they break.

 

Rate increases

All of that work has necessitated the city projecting to set aside approximately $212,000 annually for at least these first few years to cover the costs.

That money will come from permanent water and sewer rate increases that will result in the average household seeing a monthly increase of $5.50 to $7.50. The increases also cover the asset management plan for the city’s water infrastructure helping to replace portions of the system as they break down.

Contact Ryan Lewis at Ryan.Lewis.Editor@gmail.com or (269) 673-5534.

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