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Battle Creek commissioners to vote on bid to replace lead pipes

Battle Creek

The city of Battle Creek could be the latest in Michigan to move forward on replacing water pipes that contain lead. City Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on acontract to replace the pipes at 93 addresses across the city. The city is deciding whether to spend $311,670 for the work.

But the money won’t come from the city, it comes from the state. Last year, Battle Creek was one of 18 cities in Michigan to receive grant money to find and replace lead pipes. Battle Creek received $500,000 out of the $9.5 million that was awarded by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Under the state’s strict new lead and copper rules, all Michigan cities will be forced to replace an average of five percent of their lead water pipes each year, with the goal of eliminating all of those pipes within 20 years. That rule will likely start taking effect in 2021, following another rule that requires cities to create an inventory of lead water pipes no later than January 1, 2020.

The head of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department has called the new rules an “unfunded mandate” from the state. Detroit is one of four Michigan communities suing the state to prevent the new rules from taking effect.  

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.