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Service Line

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) estimates there are more than 125,000 lead service lines (LSLs). In the City of Detroit, LSLs are most likely to be found in single family homes built before 1950.

The water leaving the treatment plants that serve the City of Detroit does not contain lead, but lead can be released into drinking water from corrosion in service lines and household plumbing that contain lead. The water provided to DWSD customers contains a corrosion inhibitor to reduce corrosion of lead and other pipe materials into drinking water. DWSD tested for lead in water in 2016, and 100% of the homes tested measured lead below the EPA’s action level. DWSD is embarking on a plan to remove all LSLs to eliminate the largest potential source of lead in drinking water in the City of Detroit.

Phase 1: Service Line Inventory and Lead Sampling Program

DWSD is improving its service line inventory to confirm the locations and numbers of LSLs throughout the city. DWSD is reviewing existing DWSD records, coordinating with other city departments that do building inspections, and collecting service line information during meter visits to customers’ homes to identify service line material. As the service line inventory improves, customers will be provided information on their service line material.

DWSD will test for lead in the water at no charge at homes where a child has tested positive for elevated blood lead levels, or when DWSD is replacing a lead service line. The participating household must collect the water tap sample by adhering to the instructions provided. Use the form on the DWSD website and submit a picture of their service line. All other households can have a test conducted for a fee through the Great Lakes Water Authority or third-party labs. Any home where a collected sample has over 10 parts per billion of lead will be provided a water filter that meets the ANSI/NSF 53 standard for lead removal.

Phase 2: Standard Practices and Pilots

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DWSD owns and maintains service lines starting at the water main up to the customer’s property boundary, most often at the curb stop or stop box. Customers are responsible for the service lines from their property boundary to their home. DWSD replaces LSLs as part of all planned water main replacement projects. In the past, DWSD replaced LSLs up to the property boundary and left the service line in tact on the private side, a process commonly called a partial LSL replacement. DWSD will begin its LSL Replacement Program by eliminating partial replacements and completing full LSL replacements for all planned water main replacement projects, so that the entire LSL is replaced with copper. Homeowners and residents will need to sign a waiver to have the work completed on their property. A pilot project implementing full LSL replacement will begin in summer of 2017. Once standard practices have been tested and confirmed, any emergency involving an LSL will be addressed by a full LSL replacement.

Phase 3: City-wide Prioritization and Full Implementation

Once the legal, funding, and technical procedures for full LSL replacement are fully developed and tested through the Phase 2 pilots, DWSD will develop a prioritization plan, schedule, and budget for proactively replacing all LSLs across the city. The strategy will prioritize replacement projects in neighborhoods with a high density of LSLs and a high density of children.