Lead in Drinking Water

Overview

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that can be dangerous to human health. No level of lead is safe. Developing fetuses, infants, and young children are especially vulnerable.

Treated drinking water from the City’s water filtration plant is lead-free when it leaves the plant. It remains lead-free as it moves through the system. When the drinking water reaches your home, lead particles can enter the drinking water from the home’s plumbing or a lead water service line. Before 1950, it was common for water service lines to be made of lead.

Check out this short educational video from the American Water Works Association to learn more about water and lead services lines.

 


Lead Prevention

We take measures at the water filtration plant to limit your exposure to lead. We treat the water to prevent lead particles from breaking off your home’s plumbing or a lead water service line.

We also test the drinking water for lead at various homes throughout the city every year. The lead test results are below the allowable levels set by the State of Michigan and the federal government. The State of Michigan requires the City of Grand Rapids to replace all lead service lines by 2041. 

Prevention is the best way to protect your family. Here are steps you can take to help minimize lead exposure from drinking water:

  • Use cold water - For drinking, cooking, making ice, beverages, and infant formula. Boiling water does not remove lead from water. 
  • Use a certified lead-reduction filter - If you have a lead service line, lead or galvanized plumbing or older faucets and fittings sold before 2014, consider buying a filter that meets NSF/ANSI Standards 42 and 53. When using a filter, follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for maintenance and replacement. 
  • Keep your water moving - If water has not been used for a few hours, run the kitchen or bathroom faucet for at least 5 minutes. You can also run the dishwasher, shower, or use a washing machine.
  • Remove and clean faucet aerators - At least once a month and clean them out. Small particles may accumulate on the screens. Check out this video from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy on How to Clean Your Aerator.
  • Hire a licensed plumber - A plumber can help you identify the materials in your home plumbing system and inform you about alternate lead-free approved materials for your household plumbing. Visit www.epa.gov/water for more information about lead-free plumbing products. 

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Sampling Regulations & Results

The current allowable level for lead set by the state of Michigan and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is 15 parts per billion (ppb). In 2018, the state updated its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)The new allowable action level of 12 ppb will take effect on January 1, 2025.
 
In 2023, 51 homes were sample in the city. The final water sampling results did not exceed the allowable lead level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) or the allowable copper level of 1.3 parts per million (ppm). The EPA and the state of Michigan set the allowable levels. The water testing results for 2023 are 8 parts per billion (ppb) for lead and 0.0 parts per million (ppm) for copper.

 

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Lead Line Map 

We have developed a new tool where you can search for your property address and determine the material of your water service line. The water service line is the pipe that brings water into your home from the water main in the street.

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Lead Line Replacement Program

The City’s goal is to have all lead services replaced within 20 years or in accordance with the City’s Water/Sewer Comprehensive Master Plan. We are replacing lead service lines at no cost to homeowners or commercial properties during planned city construction projects or if there is a leak on the lead service line. 

City-Sponsored Lead Service Line Replacement

The City will replace your lead service line at no cost when:

  • There is a leak on the lead water service line.
  • Your home is within the limits of a city construction project.
  • Your home is within an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funded project.

Tenants and property owners will receive a letter, door hanger, or call informing them of their upcoming lead service line replacement and steps on how to begin the process. 

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Lead Line Notice

If you received a lead service line notice from the Grand Rapids Water System, we are required to notify property owners if there is a potential or verified lead service line serving the property.

No further action is need at this time.

Rental property owners can contact the Rental Property Owner Association at 616.454.3385 for more information. If you did not receive a notice from the Grand Rapids Water System, your water service line may be copper. If you’re unsure if you have received a notice or have questions, contact us at 311 or 616.456.3000.


Water Filter Program

The City complies with state and federal required sampling rules, and our results for lead levels are below the required action level. However, lead may enter drinking water due to corrosion of older water service lines and pipes, faucets, and fittings inside the home.

We are working with the Kent County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to distribute free water filters to eligible households in Kent County.

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