Gladstone revamps water line policy

GLADSTONE — The city of Gladstone approved changes to the Gladstone Water Department’s service line guidelines Monday.

The commission took action because of changes to Michigan’s Lead Copper Rule. Michigan is the first state to mandate all lead service lines between water mains and customer meters be replaced, to prohibit replacing only part of a lead service line except in an emergency, and to require water utilities to pay for new lines.

With the new rule, water utilities are responsible for covering the cost of both the utilities portion and private portion of the service line if any portion of the line consists of lead.

The new rules require more than just the removal of the portion of the pipe containing lead. Because it is believed small bits of lead can migrate from the leaded portion of the line to cracks or other areas of the galvanized pipe, it mandates municipalities replace water lines up to the meters, which are typically located inside the basement of a home.

Gladstone Water Superintendent Rob Spreitzer said the city has no full or partial lead service lines, but there are goosenecks (part of the water line connection) made of lead.

“Over the years, the city of Gladstone has actively removed lead goosenecks (and) replaced them with copper laterals. We’ve always had a standing policy of if someone was to replace their service line with copper, we would replace our portion with copper. That’s no longer allowed, now we would be on the hook for the whole thing if there was any lead to be found,” he said.

Now the water department is required to cover the cost of both lateral and service line replacement when a lead gooseneck is found during the installation of a service line or water main replacement.

To stay in compliance with the rule change, to keep the cost to a minimum and provide property owners control over who is working on their property Spreitzer, suggested new guidelines.

The new guidelines are water department will cover the full cost of service line replacement only if the service line is leaking and connected to a lead gooseneck — both of these conditions must exist in order to qualify for full reimbursement. In addition, all property owners will still be responsible for arranging the contractor or contractors of their choice for excavation and installation of the service line, which is the current practice. The water department will also now provide one inch copper to all customers replacing their galvanized service lines regardless of the presence of lead.

Spreitzer said customers seeking replacement of their galvanized lines before line failure or if their water main is being replaced, the water department will only cover the expense of the lateral replacement and provide enough one inch type K copper to reach from the property line to 18 inches inside the house.

The city commission approved the changes.

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