Governor’s water plan raises new questions

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LANSING, MICH. (WLNS)-Over 12 years, at a cost of $42 million, the Lansing Board of Water and Light has been replacing all of its lead service lines-and it’s still not done.

“It was a commitment to improve our infrastructure, but more importantly it was a commitment to the public health of our water customers,” explains Stephen Serkaian, BWL’.

He says the money comes from careful planning.

“We simply allocated a portion of our capital improvement dollars every year … to methodically … replace these lead services.”

But for cities that haven’t thought that far ahead, Michigan League for Public Policy CEO, Gilda Jacobs, says paying for the replacements could be tricky.

“We have pushed the responsibility for maintaining police, fire, water, to the locals and giving them less and less state money to do that.”

In other words, it’s hard to find money for new pipes when you can’t pay your police and fire departments.

“We want to be sure there aren’t these gaps in older, poorer communities… that they’re not going to have that responsibility.”

The question of where the utilities will get money from is one issue. But some cities might face other roadblocks.

BWL says most utility service lines run from the water main in the street but they stop once they hit the curb. BWL’s service lines run all the way from the water main right to the house.

Serkaian explains that BWL has the power to replace all of the lines, but, other utilities do not have that authority.

“When you split that cost and ask a homeowner to pay $1500 to 2000, it can be quite expensive,” explains Serkaian.

The governor says it’s most important to start moving.

“The federal law is dumb and dangerous. And the point here was to set… let’s set a higher standard, faster.”>

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