Lead and Copper Testing

As a result of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 399, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the final drinking water regulations for lead and copper in 1991. Those regulations, known as the Lead and Copper Rule, require:
  • Tap water monitoring;
  • Treatment for lead and copper corrosion control;
  • Public education and lead service line removal if utilities exceed preset lead or copper levels.
Drinking water treatment at the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) (formerly the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department) plant reduces the corrosivitiy of our drinking water which results in a thin layer or coating on the inside of water pipes which prevents contamination of the drinking water from materials such as lead and copper. Testing of drinking water from consumer’s faucets is an indicator of whether or not this treatment is working.

The St. Clair Shores Water Department is required by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to test for lead and copper on a 3-year cycle. The last test conducted was in 2014 and the results are shown on our Water Quality Report. The next required sampling period will be in 2017.

However due to the very unfortunate circumstances in the City of Flint and the concerns expressed by our residents it was decided to do an additional testing cycle this year. During the week of February 15th our Water Department Supervisor distributed testing bottles to 10 residential homes with these Instructions. 5 of the homes have lead solder copper piping service lines and 5 of the homes have lead service lines. Once the samples were taken they were then picked up and delivered to the GLWA lab to be analyzed.

The samples were taken from homes with known lead in their plumbing system as they would be the most likely location for elevated lead levels to be found in the drinking water if not properly treated at the plant. Keep in mind that elevated lead levels, if detected, are primarily from the piping materials. This includes service line components and the home plumbing system.

On March 1, 2016 the City received the attached passing Test Results. All 10 of the samples taken resulted in lead levels below 2.0 parts per billion (ppb). The Action Level for lead is 15 ppb. The copper levels ranged from less than 5 ppb to 141 ppb. The Action Level for copper is 1,300 ppb. The Action Level (as defined in our Water Quality Report ) is the concentration of a contaminant, which, if exceeded, triggers treatment or other requirements which a water system must follow.

For comparison the 2014 lead and copper results were taken from 5 residential homes with lead solder copper piping service lines and 6 homes with lead service lines. The lead levels were all below 2.0 ppb except 1 sample that was at 4.7 ppb. The copper levels ranged from less than 5 ppb to 84.5 ppb.

Safe and clean drinking water is something our residents should expect and the St. Clair Shores Water Department and the GLWA work hard to provide. The attached is a Statement from Sue F. McCormick, CEO, Great Lakes Water Authority.

If you are wishing to sample the drinking water in your home you can do so by following these steps:

  • Call the MDEQ Drinking Water Analysis Lab at (517) 335-8184;
  • Request a Lead and Copper Test Kit;
  • The MDEQ will mail the test kit and charge a fee for the service;
  • The test kit will contain a sample bottle and instructions;
  • Complete the sampling and return to the MDEQ Lab within 14 days of sampling.

Bryan Babcock, PE
Director of Public Works & Water

City of St. Clair Shores
Department of Public Works