Lead Found in Oak Park Water Tests, Here’s What Residents Can Do
(Oakland County Health Division, Oct. 21, 2019)
Oak Park, MI – The Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act has changed to better protect your health. New water sampling rules have been added to better detect possible lead in your drinking water. These changes not only require additional sampling, but modify the sampling method for communities with lead service lines. This new sampling method was expected to result in higher lead results, not because the water source or quality for residents has changed, but because the Act has more stringent sampling procedures and analysis.
This summer, the City of Oak Park conducted lead and copper sampling at 30 homes as part of this Act. All 30 samples were taken from homes that we believed may have had a lead water service line. Ten of the 30 homes tested came back as having lead levels higher than the Action Level of 15 parts per billion as outlined by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy or EGLE (formerly MDEQ). The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy evaluates compliance with the Action Level based on the 90th percentile of lead and copper results collected in each round of sampling. As a result of the sampling under this new method, the lead 90th percentile for the City’s water supply is 25 parts per billion (ppb). This exceeds the Action Level of 15 ppb. By no means does this mean that every home has elevated lead levels.
The “Action Level” is not a health-based standard, but it is a level that triggers additional actions including, but not limited to, increased investigative sampling of water quality and educational outreach to customers. This is NOT a violation of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.
All 30 water customers that participated in the summer sampling pool have been notified of their results. Because ten sites were over the Action Level for lead, the City of Oak Park would like to share some ways you can reduce your exposure to lead since lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water and other sources. Lead can enter drinking water when in contact with pipes, solder, home/building interior plumbing, fittings, and fixtures that contain lead. Homes with lead service lines have an increased risk of having high lead levels in drinking water. The more time water has been sitting in your home’s pipes, the more lead it may contain. Therefore, if your water has not been used for several hours, run the water before using it for drinking or cooking. This flushes lead-containing water from the pipes. Additional flushing may be required for homes that have been vacant or have a longer service line. Below are some recommended actions to help reduce lead exposure.
Run your water to flush out lead-containing water.
If you do not have a lead service line, run the water for 30 seconds to two minutes, or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature.
If you do have a lead service line, run the water for at least five minutes to flush water from your home of the building’s plumbing and the lead service line.
Consider using a filter to reduce lead in drinking water.
Public health recommends that any household with a child or pregnant woman use a certified lead filter to remove lead from their drinking water.
Look for filters that are tested and certified to NSF/ANSI Standard 53 for lead reduction.
Be sure to maintain and replace the filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions to protect water quality.
If your household has a child or pregnant woman and are not able to afford the cost of a lead filter, the Oakland County Health Department will be at the Oak Park City Hall on Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm to provide one lead filter at no cost for those that qualify.
Use cold water for drinking, cooking, or preparing baby formula.
Do not boil your water as boiling will not reduce the amount of lead in water.
Clean your faucet aerator to remove trapped debris.
Anyone with health-related questions can contact the Oakland County Nurse-On-Call. The Nurse-On-Call hotline offers information about health and related resources. Calls are answered by Oakland County Health Division Public Health Nurses Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 5:00pm. You can contact the nurse on call by calling (800) 848-5533 or via email at email@example.com.
In working with EGLE, the City of Oak Park wants to ensure that all water customers are educated on all aspects of our water system. In doing so, the City of Oak Park will soon send a comprehensive public education document about lead in drinking water. In addition to this, the City will be increasing our lead and copper sampling pool to 60 samples every six months and reviewing the results to determine if corrective actions are necessary to reduce corrosion in household plumbing.
As an immediate measure, we are working with the affected water customers to replace their private lead water service lines later this year. As part of a larger project, we will be keeping an ongoing list of the private lead service lines throughout the city. The City of Oak Park is committed to continue to replace these private lead service lines. We will replace these private lead service lines regardless of the lead level found in testing or if the lead level is over the Action Level of 15 parts per billion. The City of Oak Park has no known public lead service lines within the water system.
If you think you may have a lead water service line, and would like to be part of this increased sampling pool, please contact the Oak Park Water Department at (248) 691-7470 or visit them at Oak Park City Hall, located at 14000 Oak Park Blvd, Oak Park, MI 48237. We will schedule an appointment to have a Water Technician come to your home to determine the material of your private water service line.
We take issues of water quality very seriously in Oak Park. As we continue to strive to have the best water system possible for our residents, we ask for your understanding and cooperation during the process to mitigate these issues. It is also important to note that our water supplier, the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), tests our water in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. If you are interested in learning more about our drinking water, Oak Park’s annual water quality report is mailed to all Oak Park residents annually in our quarterly magazine, and can also be found online on the City’s website at www.bit.ly/OakParkWaterQuality.
The City of Oak Park will be hosting an Open House event on Thursday, October 24, 2019 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. The meeting will take place at the Oak Park City Hall, 14000 Oak Park Blvd, Oak Park, MI 48237. Representatives from the City of Oak Park, EGLE, and Oakland County will be present to answer any questions that you may have. City staff will be scheduling at-home inspections with a Water Technician if you suspect you have a private lead service line. The Oakland County Health Division will also be distributing free lead filters if your household has a child or pregnant woman and are not able to afford the cost of a lead filter.
Additional information regarding the new regulations and lead safety can be found on the City of Oak Park’s website at www.bit.ly/OakParkLeadInformation or on the EGLE website at: www.michigan.gov/deqleadpublicadvisory or www.michigan.gov/MILeadSafe.
Editor’s note: Birmingham and White Lake have also seen high test results.