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Whitmer Announces Public Awareness Campaign on New Lead and Copper Rule Water Quality Testing

The following press release was issued by Gov. Whitmer’s office:

Lansing, Mich. — Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a public awareness campaign surrounding new water sampling rules under the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)  will work concurrently to implement new water sampling rules while increasing communication to Michigan residents about how and why these testing changes are occurring to their drinking water. Under the Governor’s leadership, state agencies are dedicating resources to communities where higher lead levels are found, including offering water filters for vulnerable populations; investigating lead sources in homes; and increasing support to local public health agencies. 

“When state agencies and local communities work together to protect public health, we can ensure that every Michigander has access to safe, clean drinking water,” said Whitmer. “My administration continues to work towards real and permanent solutions that ensure every Michigander can bathe their kids and give them a glass of water at the dinner table safely. These changes to the Michigan Safe Drinking Act help build that confidence.”  

The testing changes now require that lead sampling must be taken from both the first liter and fifth liter water draw. By testing that fifth liter of water, it shows lead results that might be farther upstream in the water supply that is coming into homes. 

“These improved requirements will likely produce results with increased lead levels, not because residents water quality has changed, but because we have tightened our testing standards. These changes will result in additional data allowing us to improve water quality for all Michiganders,” said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. “By implementing these changes, we can better protect Michiganders against lead exposure in drinking water.”    

With the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act, our state now has some of the strongest protections in the United States against lead in drinking water, with the goal to steadily reduce, and ultimately eliminate, lead pipes used for drinking water.

Changes to the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act were approved in 2018. The rule now requires: 

  • The removal of all lead service lines in Michigan. Water supplies are required to replace an average of 5 percent of their lead services line every year for the next 20 years unless an alternative schedule is approved by EGLE.  
  • Communities locate and prioritize lead service lines for removal.   
  • The Action Level for lead in drinking water be lowered from the current level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 12 ppb on January 1, 2025. 
  • The banning of partial lead service line replacements.  
  • Complete service line material inventories be submitted to EGLE by January 1, 2025.  

“Our highest priority is to protect public health and keep Michigan families safe,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. “We’re committed to protecting the public from lead exposure by coordinating with other state departments and local communities to reduce or eliminate all sources of lead found in Michigan homes.”  

The State will work closely with local water authorities to rapidly respond to any test results showing high lead levels, including enforcing steps to lower lead levels that are required by State regulation. The Governor has secured supplemental funding that will further bolster response efforts in communities where high lead levels are found by increasing support for local public health agencies, educating families, offering water filters to vulnerable populations, and investigating homes with high lead test results. These steps would help protect families while changes to improve water quality are made. 

In an effort to increase transparency and communication, EGLE and MDHHS have launched a new website, www.michigan.gov/mileadsafe, which provide lead and copper data results for communities and up-to-date information on how Michiganders can protect themselves from lead exposure.  

To allow for further education and conversation surrounding these changes to the Michigan Safe Drinking Water, EGLE and MDHHS will be hosting three virtual town halls on July 9, 10, and 11.  

Michiganders can take part in these virtual townhalls by going to the www.michigan.gov/mileadsafe website on 6pm on July 9, 10, and 11th. 

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