Jun 15, 2018

Michigan Adopts Toughest Lead Drinking Water Rules in U.S.

Spurred by the Flint water crisis, Michigan has enacted the toughest water quality standards for lead in drinking water

Flint tightens drinking water standards for lead contamination
Flint tightens drinking water standards for lead contamination

On June 14, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the strictest rules in the U.S. targeting lead in drinking water. The new standards will bring the state's maximum contaminant level down to 12 ppb in 2025, below the federal standard of 15 ppb. Additionally, the state has outlined a plan for full lead service line replacement, abandoning the practice of partial lead service line replacement, with the exception of emergency repairs.

According to The Detroit News, the new rules form a water system advisory council, require Michigan communities to develop water supply infrastructure inventories and increase water sampling standards. The decision to increase Michigan water quality standards was largely spurred by the Flint, Mich., water crisis and lead concerns that arose with it. 

“As a state, we could no longer afford to wait on needed changes at the federal level, so Michigan has stepped up to give our residents a smarters, safes rule–one that better safeguards  water systems in all communities,” said Mich. Gov. Rick Snyder in a statement.

The provision subject to the most controversy is a new standard that public water systems must replace 5% of lead service lines each year beginning in 2021 and extending over a 20-year period, with the end goal of replacing all of the state’s approximately 500,000 lead service lines, as reported by Reuters. While municipal water districts and environmentalists alike agree replacing the lines are top priorities, many districts worry where the funding will come from and the strain it may take on taxpayers.