Major overhaul to Michigan's drinking water rules scheduled to take effect in June

Half a million lead water pipes would be targeted for replacement -- at a cost of about $2.5 billion -- under a new Michigan water regulation that takes effect in June. (WWMT/MGN Online)

Half a million lead water pipes would have to be replaced in Michigan under the new drinking water rules scheduled to take effect in June. The project is expected to cost $2.5 billion.

That is, once Gov. Rick Snyder's office crosses the t's and dot's the i's on the plan. And, if no lawmaker objects to the plan prior to the June 7 deadline.

These new rules were first announced in 2016 in response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. They will be the strictest lead regulations for drinking water in the country, state officials said. The work to dig up old pipes and replace them with new ones could begin in the next few months.

It's a massive plan, drawn up by Snyder's office. The goal is to replace more than 500,000 lead pipes across the state that connect water mains to houses and other buildings. The work is expected to take until 2040 to complete. The new standards will require lead levels in water to be below federal regulations by the year 2025.

Criticism of the project includes a look at the cost, as some local governments and water utilities accuse the state of over-reacting to the lead contamination in Flint. Critics question the necessity and cost effectiveness of a plan that will require each system to replace on average 5 percent of its lead service pipes each year over a 20-year period starting no later than 2021.

The costly work shouldn't have to be done, critics argue, in systems where there are lead pipes but tests show they're not contaminating the water at dangerous levels.

Read more:

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off