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Water Departments Must Notify Owners of Service Lines that Contain Lead

Starting this month, water departments throughout Michigan are now required to research and notify property owners if a record search within the department finds their property is serviced by a service line that contains lead. A service line connects the main water line in the street to the house. The Grand Rapids Water System has informed the RPOA that owners will begin receiving a notice this week (February 10, 2020) and in coming weeks.

Here are a few Q&A’s that we anticipate will arise as a result of this notice:

Do I have to replace my water service line if the department indicates it contains lead? No. There is no mandate that you must replace the service line. However, there are funds available to replace the line to your property during replacement of the main lines in front of your property. For more information on this and other possible financing options to replace lines, contact the Grand Rapids Water System at 616-456-3000. If you get a chance to inexpensively replace a water line, the RPOA recommends doing so to eliminate a source of possible lead exposure to young children.

Do I have to tell my tenants if I learn that the service line contains lead? Yes. State rules and laws require the rental property owner to disclosure the existence of the line to the tenant AND any future tenant. The RPOA recommends a separate lead disclosure form for this purpose. The disclosure should be made as soon as possible once you’ve received notice from the water system department.

Should I give my tenants information on what to do if I don’t replace the service line? Yes. The RPOA recommends that you explain the techniques that can significantly reduce the possibility of lead poisoning due to a service line. Lead poisoning from a water source is rare—except in the unusual circumstances as experienced in Flint, Michigan.  It is recommended that your tenants do the following to avoid contamination with lead:

  • Run the cold water tap for at least 5 minutes. Use only cold water for drinking and baby formula preparation – lead dissolves more easily in hot water.
  • Remove your faucet aerators – the small attachment at the tip of the faucet that filters and softens the flow of water – at least once a month and clean them out. Small particles may accumulate in the screens.

Should I be concerned about other plumbing in my rentals that might contain lead? Maybe. Since lead poisoning is rarely caused by plumbing within a property, an immediate replacement is probably not needed. However, if you have the chance to replace old lines that are made of lead or contain lead, it is advisable to do so. A licensed plumber can inspect and tell you whether or not you have lead pipes. (As long as they can see them.)

Does this apply to owner-occupied housing? Yes. Rentals are not being singled out. All properties must be researched by the water department and–where lead is found–disclosed to the owner.

Final Water Department DSMI Customer Notice

Still have questions?  Feel free to call the RPOA at 616-454-3385.


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