Thursday, May 13, 2021

Westland officials ask public for help in locating potential pipe problems

Westland Mayor William R. Wild wants his city to be the first in the state in total compliance with the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act.

To accomplish that goal, the city may need help from those most seriously affected by any faulty or non-compliant connections or pipes. While the city is launching a comprehensive lead service line replacement program in order to ensure that residents have safe and clean drinking water, identifying needed hazards where replacements are needed requires help from homeowners. 

The 2018 amended Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act requires that public water systems maintain an inventory of service line materials in their distribution systems by Jan. 1, 2025 and replacement of any lead service lines by 2040. 

Westland employees have begun the process of identifying service line materials (copper, galvanized steel, lead, plastic) throughout the water distribution system in order to comply with the regulations.

City of Westland water mains are completely lead-free, noted Wild, however, the city water mains connect to homes through a water service line that connects to the meter at each residence. These lines are the basis of the current inventory process. So far, Westland Department of Public Service personnel have identified approximately 35 percent of Westland service line material through inspections. While most water services in Westland are comprised of copper or plastic pipe, a few existing lines may be comprised of galvanized steel or lead, officials said, and that could present a danger. 

Residents will be asked to perform a few simple steps to identify the material of water service from where it enters the building and the meter. By mid-May, all households will have received a packet with detailed instructions on how to test and identify water service line material, and instructions for submitting the material identification back to the city. 

Included in the package will be instructions on identifying water service material; a magnet to test the service line and a pre-paid water service material identification postcard and QR code to online identification form 

“The purpose of this outreach is to seek resident assistance in identifying their water service material type and to notify residents that there may be a health risk, if it exists,” commented Wild. “Any lead service lines that are identified under the program will be replaced at no cost to the resident. Our goal is to be Michigan's first community in total compliance with Michigan's Safe Drinking Water Act.”

The pre-paid postcard or online form will be used to indicate test results and should be returned to the city upon completion. 

The first step for residents will be to find the water meter in the basement, crawlspace, or garage of the home. Residents will be testing the pipe between where it enters the building and the meter and between the meter and your house plumbing. 

Step two will be for residents to scratch the pipe (similar to a lottery ticket) with a key or coin. If the pipe is painted, use sandpaper to expose the metal. If the color underneath is orange, the pipe is copper. If the pipe is copper or plastic, fill out and return the enclosed pre-paid postcard, or online form to the city. If the scratch turns to a shiny silver color, the pipe could be lead or steel and residents need to proceed to step three. Officials caution resident not to use a sharper object, such as a knife to scrape the pipe and to be sure not to create a hole in the pipe.

If the pipe is shiny and therefore lead or steel, residents should place the provided magnet on the pipe. If the magnet attracts, it is a steel pipe. If the magnet does not attract and is a shiny silver color, it is a lead pipe.

If that is the case, residents need to complete the enclosed card or online form, indicating the material of the service line between where it enters the building and the meter, and between the meter and the house plumbing. Return the pre-paid postcard to the city or submit online form, officials advised.

For additional questions, or to schedule an inspection, residents can contact the Department of Public Services at (734) 728-1770.