Lead & Copper
Program

 
 

The City of Kalamazoo's Lead & Copper Program

The City of Kalamazoo is committed to providing safe and reliable drinking water to Kalamazoo and its surrounding communities, and has consistently been in compliance with the 1991 Safe Drinking Water Act Lead and Copper Rule and all revisions of the rule.

Effective and Safe Water Treatment

The City has utilized a corrosion control program since 1956 that works to reduce water corrosiveness to pipes, fittings and fixtures containing lead and copper. To ensure an optimized strategy, the City of Kalamazoo performs routine monitoring of corrosion control parameters within the water distribution system and testing for lead and copper in customers’ homes. Our Public Services Department periodically evaluates the most effective corrosion control methods available and additional ways to further enhance this program.

Lead Service Replacement

A proactive annual capital improvement program has been in place for over twenty years to address lead service replacements. With support from the Foundation for Excellence, the City of Kalamazoo has been able to replace a greater number of lead services each year. Other potential funding sources are also being explored to replace lead service lines as quickly as possible until all have been replaced. Staff continue to update this program and stay current with any changes to the program by the State of Michigan.    

 The City of Kalamazoo was recognized by the Southwest Michigan Branch of the American Public Works Association in 2017 for efforts replacing lead water services

The City of Kalamazoo was recognized by the Southwest Michigan Branch of the American Public Works Association in 2017 for efforts replacing lead water services

Water Quality Monitoring

The City of Kalamazoo conducts a lead and copper monitoring program at least every three years to comply with federal and state lead and copper regulations. This program targets homes that are likely to have the highest concentrations of lead in their drinking water, and includes those with lead service lines as well as homes with copper plumbing built before lead solder was outlawed in the late 1980’s.

2016 lead testing indicated that 90 percent of water samples contained less than 4 parts per billion.

The EPA action level for lead is 15 ppb at the 90th percentile, which means 90% of homes tested must have a lead concentration of 15 parts per billion or less. In 2014, a 90th percentile result of 13 parts per billion resulted in customer concerns regarding the lead concentrations in their drinking water.  It was determined that the high result was partially due to improper sampling techniques and/or plumbing fixture selections, and was not representative of lead concentrations in the system. This led to a commitment by the City of Kalamazoo to perform the lead and copper monitoring a year ahead of schedule in 2016, and utilize only trained sampling staff. In 2016, testing determined that the 90th percentile result was 4 parts per billion.

 

City of Kalamazoo Public Services staff replacing water services along Westnedge Avenue, Spring 2018

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Free Water Testing

 

The City of Kalamazoo has provided residents with FREE lead and copper sampling and testing for over 20 years. If you are concerned that you may have lead in your home’s water, please contact Kalamazoo’s Public Services Department at (269) 337-8550 to arrange for sampling. While waiting for your results, flushing your water lines for a few minutes or until you feel a temperature change before using will reduce any potential risk.

Contact (269) 337-8550 to arrange for free lead sampling 

For help finding out if you have lead service lines in your home, you can contact the City’s Department of Public Services Field Services Division at (269) 337-8729.

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Health Effects

 

If present, elevated levels of lead can cause serious health problems, especially for pregnant women and young children. Infants and children who drink water containing lead in excess of the action level could experience delays in their physical or mental development. Children could show slight deficits in attention span and learning abilities. Adults who drink this water over many years could develop kidney problems or high blood pressure. 

Lead in drinking water is primarily from materials and components associated with service lines and home plumbing. The City of Kalamazoo is responsible for providing high quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in household plumbing components. When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (until there is a significant temperature change in the water) before using water for drinking or cooking. If you are concerned about lead in your water, you may wish to have your water tested. Please contact the City of Kalamazoo Laboratory Supervisor at (269) 337-8550 for testing. Information on lead in drinking water, testing methods, and steps you can take to minimize exposure is available from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline toll free at (800) 426-4791 or at www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

Copper is an essential nutrient, but some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level over a relatively short amount of time could experience gastrointestinal distress. Some people who drink water containing copper in excess of the action level over many years could suffer liver or kidney damage. People with Wilson’s Disease should consult their personal doctor.

When your water has been sitting for several hours, you can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing your tap for 30 seconds to 2 minutes (until there is a significant temperature change in the water) before using water for drinking or cooking.