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Lead found in city of Parchment's drinking water

water faucet
Flickr user Bart

The city of Parchment, outside Kalamazoo, has lead in its drinking water. Officials say the lead exceeds a state action level, which is 15 parts per billion (ppb).

It’s a problem with Parchment's pipes. Last July the city switched to Kalamazoo’s water after chemicals known as PFAS were found in Parchment’s water supply. The new water caused lead service lines to leak the toxic metal into the drinking water.

Tests show the water from July to December of 2018 to be 16 ppb. In the first six months of 2019, it was 58 ppb.

James Baker is the director of Kalamazoo’s Public Services. He says the county was proactive in telling residence and giving them filters.

"We've got that group down to about 285 homes where its a verified lead service line, or there's some component of lead in that service line. And those are the folks that will be seeing full scale lead service replacements," Baker says.

By law, Public Advisories and Public Education materials have to be distributed to all users of the Parchment system. Baker says that's about 3,000 people. He adds, door-to-door communication was given to the 333 sites that have been identified to be at risk due to lead service lines.

Officials say Kalamazoo will replace the lead lines starting this August.

Baker says, "We've just got to get rid of these pipes. And that's really the best, quickest solution for us to get these folks taken care of." He expects the replacements will finish before January 2020.

Following the winter, officials plan on fix sidewalks and lawns damaged by the line replacements. Kalamazoo is receiving the Drinking Water Revolving Fund, which is a program that gives low-interest loans to assist water suppliers in satisfying the requirements of the Safe Drink Water Act the state gives.

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