The Kalamazoo Water Pumping Stations add small amounts of chlorine for disinfection, fluoride to keep your teeth healthy and a phosphate to help control iron and provide corrosion control in the water pipes.

-Henry the Water Drop

Henry Says
Henry Says

The City of Kalamazoo - Protect Your Water presents the following to keep you informed on the Lead and Copper Program details as they relate to our groundwater.

Lead and Copper Program

For monthly updates on Lead and Copper Line Replacements, click here

Lead and Copper in Drinking Water

Lead and copper are common metals found in the environment. Drinking water is one possible source of exposure to these metals due to their widespread use in water distribution system materials (i.e. pipes and plumbing). The City of Kalamazoo works diligently to keep their municipal water supply safe to drink. Rest assured the City's water distribution system (via water main pipes) is free of lead drinking water concerns.

However, lead can enter drinking water when it travels from the water main pipe (in the street) through any lead-containing service line pipes that connect to your home or building. “Lead corrosion” can also occur if lead is present in the home/building interior plumbing, fittings, pipe solder, and/or fixtures.

Corrosion of Metals in Drinking Water

Corrosion is the dissolving, or wearing away, of metal (i.e. lead or copper) caused by a chemical reaction between water and lead-containing distribution system materials. Several factors affect the amount of lead that enters drinking water including water quality characteristics, the amount of lead the water comes into contact with, and the frequency of water use.
Lead service line pipes can sometimes be found in older homes. Drinking water faucets manufactured before 2014 were allowed to contain up to 8% lead. The lead found in drinking water from pipe/fixture corrosion can be soluble or particulate. Soluble lead is lead that is dissolved in water. Particulate lead is small pieces of lead from lead-containing materials. Either type of lead can get into your drinking water when pipes or faucets containing lead begin to break down or dissolve due to pipe corrosion.

What are the Risks with Lead in Drinking Water?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that drinking water can make up 20% or more of a person's potential exposure to lead. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40% to 60% of their exposure to lead from drinking water. When lead is swallowed, it can cause health problems. Swallowing lead can be a serious issue for children because their bodies and nervous systems are still developing. Too much lead can cause problems with, learning, behavior, speech, hearing, growth rates and development of the nervous system.

Regulations to Control Lead in Drinking Water

The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) was developed to control lead and copper levels by reducing water corrosivity in the water distribution system. All community and nontransient noncommunity water supplies (types of public water supplies) must meet the LCR requirements. The LCR establishes action levels (AL) for lead and copper based on a 90th percentile level of tap water samples. An AL exceedance is not a violation but triggers other requirements to minimize exposure to lead and copper in drinking water, including increased water quality parameter monitoring, corrosion control treatment, source water monitoring/treatment, public education, and lead service line replacement.

Everyday ~196,000 customers on the City of Kalamazoo's Public Water Supply System receive an average of 38 million gallons (average maximum demand) of SAFE drinking water. Be assured, Kalamazoo's water carried through the water main distribution system is FREE OF LEAD CONCERNS.

However, to reduce lead corrosion in old service lines (from the water main to the home/building), a proactive annual capital improvement program has been in place for over 30 years to replace lead service line piping and connections. To provide even greater assurance to our customers, the City of Kalamazoo has a strategy to replace all lead water service lines. Thanks in part to the Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence's generous contribution, and the State of Michigan grants, the City continues to increase the lead water service line replacements. From 2021 to 2023, the City replaced 2124 lead line services!

In addition, the City has offered free lead and copper testing to customers for over 30 years; a service that is unique to most communities. In the case of a high lead result, customers are provided with a filter to remove lead at no charge, until the service line can be replaced. The City of Kalamazoo has also been working diligently with homeowners to identify lead services, and other lead sources during lead and copper sampling. This information informs customers of possible lead exposure and is used to verify and update City records. Many of these combined efforts go beyond state and federal requirements in order to provide a high level of customer service.

Private Property Owner Actions

It is important for private property owners to also take steps to reduce lead concentrations in their drinking water from lead corrosion by replacing lead-containing interior plumbing, fittings and fixtures.

Lead and Copper Program Resources