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EPA grant to help Grand Rapids replace lead service lines

July 15, 2021 GMT

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A western Michigan city will use a $5.1 million federal grant to help replace about 1,600 private service lines due to concerns over lead.

The work in some of Grand Rapids’ oldest developed neighborhoods is expected to take four years, the city said Thursday in a release.

The Grand Rapids City Commission on Tuesday approved and accepted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant which is part of the city’s four-year project to replace private lead service lines in 10 census tracts with copper pipe. The funding will complement another planned $16 million in capital investment for lead service line replacements over the same period.

There are more than 24,000 lead service lines in Grand Rapids and about 1,700 have been replaced since 2017, according to the city.

Lead services lines taking water to homes, schools and businesses from city pipes have been a cause for concern for local, state and federal leaders for the past several years.

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In 2014, state-appointed managers running Flint switched to water from the Flint River. But the water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion, causing lead to be released from inside old pipes.

Lead is considered harmful at any level, and children are particularly vulnerable because it can slow growth, cause anemia and result in learning and behavior problems.