Work begins in April to replace CBPU’s lead water service lines under the EGLE loan
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to Approve $3 Million Forgivable Loan from the State’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund in Coldwater for Replacement of Lead Service Lines .
EGLE will receive public comments for 30 days.
“We’re ready to get to work on April 15,” said Brian Musselman, acting deputy director of the Coldwater Board of Public Utilities.
Michigan began providing money to replace lead pipes after Flint’s water crisis in 2014. Water treatment changes began leaching lead into homes. Benton Harbor is currently replacing lead pipes after severe lead leaching was discovered this year.
Musselman said that was not the case at Coldwater.
“We’re doing all the right things here with our treatments. We really haven’t, never had a problem with the service lines,” he said.
The state program was ordained statewide in 2018 as a 20-year program, but accelerated last year.
“It’s a scary topic for a lot of people, so we’d like to move on (the replacement) as quickly as possible,” Musselman said.
Approximately 1,295 lead service lines still exist in older portions of Coldwater’s distribution system. The three-year grant can replace approximately 815 connections from street connections to homes.
“We have about 1,200 services to replace. We’ll do as many as we can until the time runs out or the money runs out,” Musselman said.
The request stated that Coldwater would work concurrently to replace oversized and obsolete water pipes in separate projects. Musselman said the projects could not be mixed. Lead line replacement is charged separately. EGLE forgives the actual cost of each installation, up to $5,000 of the loan.
“My drill that I ordered got pushed back to August,” he said. “So until then, we’re doing it the old-fashioned way, digging and pulling them by hand.”
CBPU teams will do the work when not on more critical projects. Musselman hopes that once the majority of the fiber internet project is complete, three employees hired to complete these facilities will come to work on the leadline replacement.
The grant has an end date of July 2025 for repayment.
CBPU will pay for project design, construction engineering, bond advisory, financial services
service charges and legal and administrative charges for utility reserves. It cannot raise fares to cover these costs.
The water system consists of more than 86 miles of mains, mostly cast iron and ductile iron. Sizes range from 4 inches to 16 inches in diameter. About 30% of the water main was built before 1900.
There are more than 4,200 services in total connected to the system. Approximately 89% of connections are residential and 11% are non-residential.
Prior to construction, signs will be posted in the project area and letters will be sent to owners detailing the project.
Property owners will be notified in advance of the proposed project and planned water service interruption through door hangers, flyers, and a physical tour of the property. Information will also be available on the CPBU website throughout the project.