The City of Grand Haven is committed to supplying a safe, reliable source of clean drinking water. To maintain the high quality of Grand Haven’s water system, the City plans to replace lead service lines (LSLs), impacting 1,711 homes in Grand Haven.

Starting in 2020, the Department of Public Works (DPW) will replace a minimum of 5% of Grand Haven’s LSLs on an annual basis. The goal is to eliminate 100 LSLs per year until the year 2040.

The DPW did not decide to replace its LSLs because of any identified problems with Grand Haven’s drinking water. All of the City’s lead tests have shown the lead levels in Grand Haven’s water to be well below the action limits set by the State of Michigan. Instead, the DPW seeks to act in compliance with laws put forth by the State, which mandates that all Michigan cities replace their lead service within the next 20 years. Following the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the State took action to prevent future cases of lead exposure in water lines from occurring. Lead exposure can lead to serious health conditions and compromised immune systems, especially among infants, young children, and pregnant women.

The process will begin with the DPW employees visiting all 1,711 affected homes over the next four years. During these visits, a City staff member will document the composition and location of each house’s service line material.

A service line replacement involves removing an existing service line and replacing it with a new service line. Normally, the service line located between the sidewalk and the house is considered the responsibility of the private home owner, not the City. However, the State mandate now requires that the service line be replaced from water main to within 18 inches inside of the home.

Partial service line replacements are no longer allowed because they can release lead particles and lead to galvanic corrosion. It also costs more to finish replacing lead service pipes in an incremental manner.

If a homeowner has a lead service line, it does not mean that their entire service line is made of lead. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, a lead gooseneck was often used to connect a galvanized water service to a water main. The lead gooseneck is often the only piece of the service line that is made of lead.

Prior to conducting the service line replacement, the DPW will send each homeowner a notification letter a year, six months, and three weeks in advance of the replacement date. The DPW will also place a door hanger two-to-three days prior to the installation.

During the installation day, a contractor will knock on the homeowner’s door and ask for permission to enter. The DPW guarantees that the standard of the person’s home will not be harmed due to the installation.

The DPW seeks to make the lead service line replacement program as efficient, cost-effective, and non-disruptive as possible. To make sure that happens, they welcome any questions that homeowners might have.

For more information, please contact Director of Public Works, Derek Gajdos, or Streets & Utilities Manager, Matt Wade, at 616-847-3493.