The water distributed from the water conditioning plants of the BWL meets or exceeds all measures of drinking water quality under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the State of Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (PA 399) and other conditions defined by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
BWL water has no detectable lead when it leaves the water conditioning plants and there are no lead mains in its 800 mile distribution system.
The BWL follows a two part strategy to protect its 55,000 residential and commercial customers from exposure to lead leaching into drinking water. First, in December 2016, the BWL replaced its last active lead service line, joining Madison, Wisconsin as the only two water utilities in the nation that have removed all lead service lines. The project began in 2004 and removed 12,150 active lead service lines at a cost of $44.5 million. The BWL replaced the connection from the water main to the meter, which the BWL owns, at a home or business. Secondly, the BWL uses a corrosion control additive to create a protective coating in the water mains, service lines and indoor plumbing. To assure that these strategies are effective, the BWL conducts periodic testing for lead and copper in its drinking water and corrosion control concentrations in its distribution system. These are just two of the many tests performed by the BWL to assure that its water remains safe.
L to R: David Price, BWL Board of Commissioners Chair; Dick Peffley, BWL General Manager; Mayor Virg Bernero, who in 2004 headed a community task force that recommended all BWL lead service lines be replaced.
Reducing the water's corrosiveness is important to keeping lead out of drinking water. The BWL uses a phosphate compound to coat water pipes and prevent leaching of lead and copper into drinking water and which has shown past success in reducing lead levels. The level of corrosion control leaving BWL's water conditioning plants is tested every 4 hours and 30 minutes to confirm that proper levels of the additive are present. Also, quarterly sampling results from the distribution system are used to confirm that the levels of additive necessary to achieve corrosion control are present throughout the BWL’s service territory.
Although the BWL has been proactive in removing lead service lines, lead may still be present in home plumbing fixtures, in older copper plumbing with lead solder and some older brass fixtures that contain lead. The BWL’s corrosion control additive is also designed to minimize lead exposure from the plumbing inside a home or other building just as it does in the BWL’s distribution system.
Lastly, the BWL conducts periodic testing for lead and copper in its drinking water. To comply with federal and state lead and copper regulations, the BWL performs lead and copper analysis at customer homes every three years, with the last round of testing occurring in 2014. These tests must be conducted in homes likely to have the highest concentration of lead. That includes houses with lead service lines and houses with copper plumbing built just before lead-based solder was outlawed in the late 1980s. EPA's action level for lead is 15 parts per billion at the 90th percentile. That means 90 percent of the homes sampled for lead have to have a lead concentration of 15 parts per billion or less. The 2014 test indicated that 90 percent of samples were less than 7.8 parts per billion.
Unlike many water systems that make use of surface waters such as lakes and rivers, the sole source of the BWL’s drinking water is the Saginaw Aquifer, located hundreds of feet below the City. The Saginaw Aquifer is a safe and reliable source of drinking water that meets all drinking water standards. The BWL’s drinking water is pumped from 125 wells that reach about 400 feet below ground. Water from BWL wells is transported through large transmission mains to one of two water conditioning plants. The plants soften the water by removing about 80 percent of the hardness. The softened water is then chlorinated, fluoridated, treated with a corrosion control agent, filtered and stored in reservoirs for distribution to BWL customers. Lansing is one of the largest communities in the country to rely exclusively on groundwater to meet its drinking water requirements.
If you have questions, contact Angie Goodman at 517-702-7059 or firstname.lastname@example.org.