U.S.: Michigan may end up with the harshest lead in potable water rule in light of Flint

Michigan could find itself with the toughest drinking water regulations regarding lead in the United States. Image credit: Gabrielle Emanuel/Michigan Radio

With the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality moving toward proposed alterations in regards to the lead and copper rule, the state of Michigan could find itself holding the toughest rules and regulations on lead in potable water in the United States (U.S.), if approved, according to the Michigan Radio.

Among the revisions to the policy is a motion to reduce the level of acceptance for lead in the tap water of a community. If the law is approved and passed, the current accepted “action level” of 15 parts per billion (ppb) of lead could be lowered to 10 ppb.

“Though no amount of lead is safe in water, reducing that is going to be very important,” Chris Kolb, president of the Michigan Environmental Council, said to the Michigan Radio.

But a change in action level is only one of the revisions proposed; yet another calls for a requirement that communities test their water for copper and lead every year as compared to every three years. But the most contentious proposed change so far to the current policy necessitates every metropolis in the state to replace every lead pipe and line at the expense of its respective water system.

“From a public health standpoint, this is something we have to do,” Kolb added. “these regulations and rules provide a framework and a very reasonable time frame to allow communities to plan to get their lead service lines out of the ground.”


Presently, cities only need to replace the lead service lines – the pipes connecting a private home to a water main underground – as a solution to the lead in the drinking water. Moreover, the metropolises normally only replace half a service line, the half under the ownership of the city, with other half – closest to the home – considered private property.

But under the new ruling, every city in Michigan would have to replace all their fully lead lines, even those with no signs of lead issues, as well as create a plan for it – all at public expense.