Lansing, Mich. — Better protecting people from lead and copper in drinking water is the goal of reforms proposed at a meeting of the Flint Water Interagency Coordinating Committee (FWICC), Gov. Rick Snyder said. A FWICC Policy Subcommittee outlined a series of needed reforms to the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) for Michigan to follow that puts public health first while providing more transparency and public education.
“The federal Lead and Copper Rule needs to be improved immediately. It’s dumb and dangerous and in Michigan we aren’t going to wait for the federal government to fix it anymore,” Snyder said. “We need to move forward with these reforms so we can better protect the health and safety of all Michiganders. These new standards could be used as a model for other states to follow and to prevent additional water crises.”
The LCR is a federal regulation aimed at controlling lead and copper in the drinking water and can only be altered nationally via federal action. The EPA told Congress on Wednesday that the agency would not have reforms ready until early 2017.
Mike Zimmer, the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and newly appointed cabinet director for Snyder, helped lead the FWICC Policy Subcommittee’s work in developing Michigan’s enhanced LCR rules.
“We need to keep pushing for changes at the federal level but that doesn’t mean we can’t go above and beyond as a state,” Zimmer said. “Tackling these reforms means communities will be able to better safeguard residents from lead in their drinking water.”
The proposed reforms would help Michigan become a national leader, according to Dr. Marc Edwards, the Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech University and a member of the FWICC Policy Subcommittee.
“With this initiative, the state of Michigan will become a national leader in reducing lead exposure from drinking water, which is unfortunately necessary given that EPA has refused to close loopholes that we have known about for more than a decade,” Edwards said.
Key highlights of the recommendations by the FWICC Policy Subcommittee include:
- Protect the public better by requiring annual lead and copper testing for all schools, day cares, adult foster care facilities, substance abuse clinics, and public hearing facilities as well as initial testing at license grant or opening.
- Improve protection of residents by continuously assessing and making recommendations regarding science, testing, monitoring protocols, water treatments, and corrosion control through a new Advisory Commission on Drinking Water Quality.
- Ensure water customers have a stronger voice by requiring each public water system serving more than 500 customers to create a Water System Advisory Council responsible for local oversight and input.
- Protect homebuyers and renters by requiring disclosure of lead service line status in all home sales and rental contracts.
- Alert the public better by requiring notices to all customers as well as public notices to all schools, community centers, and child care centers when a public water system exceeds the lead action level.
- Protect water systems better by requiring public water systems to follow defined corrosion control treatment standards. Also define proper testing protocols to follow regarding the frequency, size, site selection, and draw of water samples.
- Protect water supplies better by requiring comprehensive lead and copper analysis prior to any significant change in water source or treatment by a public water system. Also require all corrosion control to be performed under the guidance of a licensed engineer.
- Provide better health care by requiring strict notifications and access to blood testing for households that test over 40 parts per billion for lead.
- Protect residents more by requiring public water systems to conduct a complete inventory of all service line materials up to the interior meters.
- Improve water systems by requiring every public water system to adopt a full lead service line replacement program within 10 years. Also prohibit partial lead service line replacements.
- Protect residents more by phasing in a reduction in the lead action level from 15 ppb to 10 ppb by 2020 to align with the standards currently used by the World Health Organization.
- Enforce water treatment protections by establishing state fines for violations of state rules to assure accountability and transparency.
“By including impacted communities in the Lead and Copper Rule's implementation and oversight, the state of Michigan will give this regulation a chance to finally become the public health protective rule it was intended to be,” said Dr. Yanna Lambrinidou, a member of the FWICC Policy Subcommittee and President of Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives, a non-profit children's environmental health organization in Washington, D.C.
For more information on the FWICC, visit www.mi.gov/fwicc.