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EGLE announces creation of external technical panel to advise on lead reduction, corrosion control in municipal drinking water systems


October 1, 2021

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) today announced the creation of a panel of drinking water experts to advise the agency on lead reduction strategies.

The announcement comes as the state accelerates efforts to reduce lead exposures caused by aging water distribution infrastructure in several communities throughout the state, with the ultimate goal of removing lead contamination from Michigan drinking water statewide.

The seven-member panel of technical experts will bolster EGLE's ongoing effort to advise drinking water systems with aging lead service lines on effective corrosion control strategies.  The panel will report to EGLE's Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division (DWEHD), which regulates 2,685 public drinking water systems under the state's Lead and Copper Rule (LCR).

"Corrosion control is particularly important in many communities where older, outdated water treatment infrastructure creates challenges in keeping lead out of drinking water. Those older systems often serve communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, many of which are disproportionately impacted by health and environmental challenges," said EGLE director Liesl Clark. "EGLE is already in action helping cities and towns across the state where lead levels exceed regulatory standards. This panel will be an added asset in ensuring the best water treatment programs are in place for communities while we move aggressively toward total replacement of these lead service lines."

Lead in old service lines and home plumbing can enter the drinking water through various mechanisms related to the corrosivity of the water. The LCR requires systems to provide corrosion control when they exceed the federal lead or copper action level. Phosphate is typically added, which coats the old plumbing materials and prevents water from contacting the metals. This corrosion control is intended to limit leaching of metals into drinking water to protect Michiganders while a statewide effort is underway to eliminate all lead service lines.

Among potential roles of the panel:

  • Provide advice on strategies to ensure compliance with LCR corrosion protection requirements at drinking water systems where corrosion protection is triggered, is not effective or needs to be optimized
  • Provide input into the selection and optimization of corrosion protection methods
  • Advise on interim actions that would be most effective to ensure public protection while corrosion protection is implemented
  • Recommend and assess corrosion control studies and evaluate corrosion protection effectiveness
  • Identify metrics used to assess corrosion control effectiveness
  • Provide general guidance on implementing the LCR, which requires sampling and implements timelines when an action level is exceeded

EGLE is in the process of selecting academic and water system engineering experts for the panel and expects to recruit experts both from within and outside the state. The panel will meet on a regular schedule and be available as a resource to EGLE on an as-needed basis.

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